Enactment of Helium Legislation Strengthens American Manufacturing

Friday, Oct 04, 2013, 12:00pm

by Semiconductor Industry Association

Today is National Manufacturing Day, a time to shine a light on the critical role that manufacturing plays in boosting America’s economic strength, job creation, and global competitiveness.  It’s also a day to take stock of the challenges facing U.S. manufacturing – including skilled labor shortages, non-competitive tax structures, and burdensome regulatory obstacles, among others – and the steps we can take to overcome them. https://www.semiconductors.org/clientuploads/innovation.jpg

Congress and the Administration took one such step this week by enacting H.R. 527, legislation to secure the supply of helium, a gas that is essential for semiconductor manufacturing and other forms of advanced manufacturing, as well as medical devices like MRI machines, scientific research, and a range of other applications.  The House and Senate approved H.R. 527, the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, last week after a sustained advocacy effort by an SIA-led coalition of helium users, and President Obama signed the legislation into law earlier this week.

Enactment of this legislation ensures that private users of helium will have continued access to the Federal Helium Reserve, which contains almost half of the total U.S. helium supply. The Reserve was scheduled to go offline on Oct. 7, which would have resulted in a needless disruption to the U.S. semiconductor industry, other forms of advanced manufacturing, and the U.S. economy.

Despite the challenges facing manufacturing in the U.S., our country still leads the world in cutting edge semiconductor manufacturing and design, and semiconductors remain one of America’s top manufactured exports, along with automobiles and aircraft. But our continued leadership is not guaranteed, and we need smart government initiatives to keep U.S. manufacturing strong.

SIA commends Congress and the Administration for working collaboratively to approve bipartisan helium legislation, and we urge them to build on this momentum by taking steps to further strengthen U.S. manufacturing, such as increasing funding for research and development, investing in higher education programs, streamlining government regulations, and reforming trade policies.  Doing so will ensure that the U.S. advanced manufacturing sector can continue to create the jobs and products that drive our economy.