Over 100 Lawmakers Call for CHIPS Permitting Reform in Final Defense Bill

October 27, 2023

Sens. Cruz and Kelly’s amendment to expedite construction of semiconductor facilities receives overwhelming bipartisan, bicameral support


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and over 100 other lawmakers are calling on Congressional leaders to include Sen. Cruz and Kelly’s amendment to streamline the CHIPS permitting reform process in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendment, which passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support in July, will provide regulatory certainty and accelerate the construction of semiconductor manufacturing plants. In a letter to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, the lawmakers emphasized the importance of preventing any interruption in the construction of semiconductor manufacturing projects. Such interruptions ultimately undermine the objectives of the CHIPS Act and increase risks to both our economic and national security.


Regarding the overwhelming bipartisan, bicameral support for his amendment, Sen. Cruz said:


“The overwhelming and broad bipartisan support for the CHIPS permitting reform amendment shows that both Congress and the administration stand united: build these new semiconductor plants now. I hope defense bill negotiators will agree to the Kelly-Cruz language and remove the needless bureaucratic delays that are weakening national and economic security. Let’s get this new capacity built quickly so Texas, which is already one of the nation’s leading chip producers, can continue growing and more jobs are brought to the Lone Star State.”


The letter was sent to Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), House Armed Services Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) with overwhelming bipartisan, bicameral support.


The lawmakers write in the letter:

Historically, NEPA reviews apply to projects that receive a significant portion of federal funding, giving the Federal government sufficient control over the project’s outcome. This is not the case for the CHIPS program…”


“The Commerce Department will require a NEPA review by considering CHIPS Act projects to be ‘major federal actions.’”


“This could include projects that have already received all environmental permits required under federal and state law, and have begun construction. This could halt or delay commencement of new projects, impacting the United States’ ability to bolster its national security interests, economic growth, competitiveness, and technological leadership.”


The lawmakers also stressed the importance of the amendment’s effort to level the playing field for construction of semiconductor facilities:

“To address this challenge, Section 1090G of the Senate-passed NDAA and the Building Chips in America Act would clarify the scope of NEPA reviews required under the CHIPS Act..”


“…Furthermore, Section 1090G of the Senate-passed version ensures all states are equally attractive for semiconductor investments.”


As the letter points out, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has endorsed Sens. Cruz and Kelly’s amendment:

“As Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo recently testified to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: ‘These are national security imperative projects. […]


“Environmental concerns matter. We are not in any way suggesting we should do anything that hurts the environment or is unsustainable. That being said, we do need to […] streamline the process, speed the process, make the process more efficient and user friendly. […] But without the [amendment] it’s very difficult.’”


The lawmakers conclude:

"Interruptions and delays to semiconductor manufacturing projects would undermine the goals of the CHIPS Act and exacerbate risks to our economic and national security, without providing additional benefits for environmental protection."


Read the full letter HERE.


In total the letter has 120 signatories including Sens. Ted Cruz, Mark Kelly, Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), JD Vance (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.)