WATCH: Ahead of Senate Vote, Sen. Kelly Discusses His Microchip Manufacturing Plan
Arizona Senator Mark Kelly recently joined Akiko Fujita of Yahoo! Finance to discuss the bipartisan legislation he helped negotiate to boost domestic microchip manufacturing. Over a year after the Senate first passed Kelly’s $52 billion microchip manufacturing plan, the updated bill is closer than ever to becoming law.
Arizona is home to one of the largest semiconductor industries in the country, with nearly 30,000 jobs, and is poised to grow with recently announced investment plans from Intel and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). The Kelly-shaped bill will grow Arizona’s semiconductor industry, create high-paying jobs in Arizona, address supply chain issues, and protect national security interests by decreasing reliance on foreign adversaries like China.
“The price of semiconductors have gone up and it affects the costs for so many things for Americans,” said Senator Kelly in the interview. “So this is going to bring down costs, secure our national security, and we’re not going to have to worry so much about the actions of an adversary, meaning China, when it comes to our supply of semiconductor chips.”
Kelly has championed microchip legislation for over a year, negotiating the initial $52 billion plan which was included in the final bill, and championing the FABS Act, which was also included in the legislation and creates a 25 percent investment tax credit for investments in microchip manufacturing. Earlier this year, Kelly was named to the bipartisan conference committee which finalized the CHIPS Act legislation that the Senate is expected to vote on this week.
Watch the full video HERE. Read a transcript of Kelly’s interview below:
Fujita: The Senate this week voted to advance a narrow CHIPS bill to encourage companies to boost production in the US. I spoke with Arizona Senator Mark Kelly on the timeline for the legislation and whether he expects President Biden to sign it into law before the August recess. Take a listen.
Kelly: We’ll get this done Monday, Tuesday. Probably by Tuesday or Wednesday next week. And then it’ll go to the House, that’s a much simpler process. We’ll get it to the President, we’ll get it signed into law. But the best news about this is this is so important for our national security. Semiconductor chips go into all of our weapons systems, but everything from your cellphone to your vacuum cleaner. The price of semiconductors have gone up and it affects the costs for so many things for Americans. So this is going to bring down costs, secure our national security, and we’re not going to have to worry so much about the actions of an adversary, meaning China, when it comes to our supply of semiconductor chips.
Fujita: Let’s talk about the specifics in this bill because I think there are still concerns about whether in fact there are enough strings attached to ensure that the 52 billion dollars in incentives, for example, will be used for what it’s intended for. The guardrails that are in place here specifically ensure that this money is being used for investments in the US, and not necessarily China or any other foreign country of concern. That’s how it’s worded. I mean, what exactly does that mean, and how do you apply that?
Kelly: It took a lot to get this across the finish line, but there are guardrails. I mean you can’t take this money and go build a fabrication facility in China. You know, that’s not going to happen. This is on US soil. This is going to bring tens of thousands of high-tech manufacturing jobs back to our shores. And it’s going to increase production in semiconductors dramatically. We used to be at 40 percent of worldwide production, now we’re at 12 percent. This is going to get us moving back in the right direction.
Fujita: There are those critics like Senator Bernie Sanders who have come out and said that this is nothing more than a government handout for companies who are quite lucrative and bring in billions of dollars in revenue. He specifically highlighted Intel, talking about how much revenue they made last year but also how much CEO Pat Gelsinger makes in salary alone. What do you say to those who say that taxpayers should not be footing the bill for companies who can afford to build out in the US?
Kelly: Well, securing our supply chain for semiconductors ultimately, and allowing companies to have access to these, and the number of ancillary companies that come in to support them just create, like I said, tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. Those folks pay taxes, this grows our GDP. It is good for the bottom line. But it is also 100 percent necessary if we want to support our national security. You know, we can’t have the best semiconductor chips, that are required for our satellite systems and our advanced fighter jets, ships, and other weapons systems, made in another country. Or, by the way, tested in another country. You know, a lot of chips are tested in China. I mean think about that for a second. A chip will go through a Chinese company before it gets inserted in our military hardware? I mean, that doesn’t make any sense. And this legislation addresses that.
Fujita: That was Arizona Senator Mark Kelly discussing the CHIPS Act which by the way he has been a very leading advocate of. We should mention Arizona would be a very big beneficiary on the back of this. They’ve already gotten deals with Intel, breaking ground on two FAB facilities there as well as Taiwan Semiconductor announcing their investment into a facility in Arizona.