BOISE, Idaho — Legislation providing incentives for companies to produce semiconductors in the U.S. is headed to the president's desk, and Boise-based Micron Technology on Friday announced its intent to "bring leading-edge memory manufacturing" to this country.
However, Micron has not yet decided if that U.S. expansion will take place in Idaho or in another state.
The U.S. House on Thursday passed the measure that includes what's known as "CHIPS and Science" legislation. There's $280 billion worth of total spending in the measure, which includes federal grants and more than $50 billion in tax incentives for companies that build their computer-chip manufacturing facilities in the U.S. It also directs Congress to boost spending on high-tech research programs that supporters say will help the nation stay economically competitive for decades to come.
Micron is the primary U.S. producer of computer memory, but says "today, only 2% of global memory supply is manufactured in the U.S." The company on Friday issued a news release commending and thanking the Biden Administration and "the bipartisan work of Congress" for passing the legislation.
"This is a big step towards securing the future of semiconductor manufacturing in the United States and advancing American innovation and competitiveness for years to come," the company statement said. "This legislation will bring leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing to the U.S., creating tens of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars of new investments – transforming U.S. semiconductor innovation and supply chain resilience...
"As a result of this bipartisan effort to ensure our economic and national security, Micron has an historic opportunity to invest in bringing the most innovative leading-edge memory manufacturing to the U.S. We look forward to sharing more details regarding our plans in the coming weeks," Micron said in the closing paragraph of its statement.
On Wednesday, July 20, Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra appeared on CNBC, and was asked about reports that Micron was looking at building a new fabrication plant in Boise. He would not confirm a decision, and said the company was evaluating "multiple states across the U.S."
All four members of Idaho's congressional delegation voted against the legislation. They say they support U.S. semiconductor production, and countering China's growing position in an industry critical to national security, but they objected to a lot of the spending added to the bill just days before the votes that sent it to the president's desk.
"I was proud to support CHIPS for America when passed as part FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act. However, the CHIPS Plus bill that the House voted on today was a far cry from a clean bill to support U.S. competitiveness," Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho, 2nd Congressional District) said in a written statement. "I support funding for U.S. semiconductor production – but at a time when inflation is at record levels and Americans are already suffering under the crushing weight of rising prices, it is irresponsible to approve even more reckless spending that will almost certainly send our economy into recession."
Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho, 1st Congressional District) released a statement saying, in part, "Both opponents and supporters of the CHIPS+ Act seek a strong domestic semiconductor industry - not reliant on foreign supply. The difference lies in the proposed solution. Members like me look to the free market, and see that since the beginning of 2021, semiconductor companies have announced nearly $80 billion in domestic investment plans through 2025. Meanwhile, China remains a net importer of semiconductors, at about $300 billion every year. While we cannot understate the risk currently posed by China’s position in the semiconductor market, we also should not understate the current devastating effects of inflation – which is further exacerbated by more government spending..."
Republican Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch on Wednesday both sent statements to KTVB in which they said they support the nation's semiconductor industry for the sake of national security and Idaho's economy, but objected to unrelated spending Senate Democrats added, in Sen. Crapo's words, "at the last minute."
"Unfortunately, this critical semiconductor legislation was hijacked by Senator Schumer who, at the last minute, added hundreds of pages authorizing $200 billion of increased spending unrelated to semiconductors," Sen. Crapo said. "This fuels the inflationary fires that we are all battling and drives up our national debt, which in itself is a tremendous threat to our national security. At a time when every day brings a new record high for rates, costs and inflation, we must stop this unfettered spending that is crippling our economy and penalizing everyday Americans."
Sen. Risch said, "Semiconductors are essential to national security, and every day we face new threats from countries like China attempting to steal our technologies and undercut world supply chains. This aggression must be countered. I helped draft the CHIPS Act and moved it forward in Congress. The CHIPS Act would have had my vote, but Senate Democrats added $200 billion dollars in unrelated spending that will be heaped onto the existing $30 trillion dollars of U.S. debt. I will continue strongly supporting the semiconductor industry as a vital aspect of national security, but the U.S. cannot meaningfully compete if we bankrupt ourselves along the way.”
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