House Approves Helium Bill, Sends Back to Senate as Deadline Approaches

Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013, 8:00pm

by David Isaacs, Vice President, Government Affairs

Helium legislation continues to bounce between the House and Senate, with both chambers overwhelmingly approving similar bills in recent days as the Oct. 1 deadline for final passage inches closer.

The House was the latest to act, voting today to approve an amended version of legislation (H.R. 527) to secure the supply of helium, a critical gas for semiconductor manufacturing and a wide range of other applications. H.R. 527, as amended, passed unanimously and now awaits final approval by the Senate.

Today’s vote is another important step toward enactment of helium legislation before Oct. 1, when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will begin shutting down the Federal Helium Reserve to private helium users, effectively cutting off almost half of America’s helium supplies. On April 26, the House approved a previous version of this bill nearly unanimously, and last week the Senate passed a slightly different version of the bill by a vote of 97-2.

Earlier today, SIA and a broad coalition of dozens of companies, associations, universities, and other groups sent a letter to House members urging passage of the bill:

“All House members should support H.R. 527 and vote in favor of (1) supporting American jobs and advanced manufacturing, (2) reforming a bureaucratic program in need of improvement, (3) reducing the deficit, and (4) shrinking the size of government by closing this program in an orderly manner.”   

The amended version of H.R. 527 approved by the House today contains limited revisions to version of the bill that passed the Senate last week. We urge the Senate to act swiftly to approve these minor changes in the coming days and send helium legislation to the President for his signature before Oct. 1. Doing so would prevent a needless disruption to the U.S. economy that would put millions of jobs at risk.