Wyden, Merkley praise OK for federal semiconductor aid

Oregon senators praised passage of legislation to provide
federal support for expanding domestic semiconductor manufacturing and

The Senate vote of 64-33 on Wednesday, July 27 – including
Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley – sends the legislation (HR 4346) back to
the House, which passed a different version on Feb. 4. Assuming that the
chambers resolve their differences, the bill could go to President Biden for
his signature before the congressional recess starts Aug. 6.

Biden, in an April 21 stopover at Portland International
Airport, urged Congress to get moving on the legislation.

The Senate version proposes $52 billion for grants and tax
incentives to encourage domestic manufacturing of semiconductors – which the
United States has relied on China and other Asian nations for – and $200
billion for advanced research. About $10 billion would go to new regional
technology hubs to be designated by the secretary of commerce.

Seventeen Republicans joined 46 Democrats and one
independent who sides with Democrats to vote for the bill. Independent Bernie
Sanders of Vermont, who also normally sides with Democrats, joined 32
Republicans in opposition. Two Democrats and one Republican did not vote.

Wyden conducted a news conference on July 9 with executives
from Intel — Oregon’s largest private employer with 22,000 workers — plus
nLight and Microchip Technology. All are based outside Oregon, but Intel has
plants in Hillsboro and Aloha, nLight in Hillsboro and Vancouver, Wash., and
Microchip Technology in Gresham. Intel has a major research and development
facility in Hillsboro.

Wyden, chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee,
also is a co-chair of a state task force on semiconductors. The others are Gov.
Kate Brown and Maria Pope, chief executive of Portland General Electric.

Statements by senators

Wyden’s statement after the vote:

“That (bill) adds up to a big win for Oregon companies
and workers as well as consumers facing higher costs due to shortages in
foreign-made and foreign-subsidized chips and supply chain problems.”

“This bill goes hand in hand with the state
semiconductor task force’s work to pump new life into the Silicon Forest so
Oregon’s job-creating businesses can have an even stronger heartbeat at the
center of U.S. chip production.

“Fresh incentives to bring chip manufacturing back to
America are especially timely for Oregon, with the task force working to ensure
our state continues generating high-paying tech jobs. Bottom line, I’m
gratified the Senate has passed this bipartisan bill strengthening the economic
and national security of our country and state.”

Merkley’s statement:

“Strengthening manufacturing in America is a win-win.
If we don’t make things in America, we won’t have a middle class in America.
Our modern economy is built on tiny chips, and we can grow the middle class and
protect our national security with strong domestic supply chains. And since
Oregon is the backbone of the American semiconductor industry, Oregon
especially stands to gain from this bill.

“The pandemic alone didn’t cause the chip shortage. It
shed light on existing fault lines in our manufacturing infrastructure. We’ve
learned the hard way how desperately we need these investments in American
workers to produce chips here at home instead of sourcing chips made abroad.
This bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate cements American competitiveness
and ensures we stay at the forefront of innovation.

“This legislation is also a critical step in competing
with China, which is about revitalizing our ability to level the playing field.
Today is only a first step and we cannot stop here. Congress must come back and
pass other bipartisan provisions that ensure American values for human rights
and democracy remain a centerpiece of our relationship with China.”