MICROCHIPSBipartisan Texan Push in Congress to Boost Semiconductors, a Crucial Industry in the State

By Matthew Choi

Published 9 August 2023

Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz and Democrats like Rep. Colin Allred — opponents in the 2024 election — propose streamlining environmental reviews to promote investment and expansion by chipmakers.

Texas officials want their state to be the center of the global semiconductor revolution, and members of Congress from across the political spectrum are pushing to make it happen.

A new measure led by a diverse group of Texans — including Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and one of his 2024 challengers, Democratic U.S. Rep. Colin Allred — are seeking to streamline environmental review requirements for new investments in the state’s semiconductor industry, a move that industry backers say would drastically increase competitiveness. Cruz and his Senate partners recently added the measure into the upper chamber’s annual defense bill.

“This language will help Texas, already the nation’s leading chip producer, continue to grow this burgeoning industry and bring more jobs to the Lone Star State while boosting America’s economic and national security,” Cruz said in a statement.

The move follows the CHIPS and Science Act signed into law last year, also shepherded by a coterie of Texans eager to boost the industry in the state. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was a key leader on the legislation, which created federal grants to promote domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

As competition between the United States and China escalates, Congress has been working since last year to shore up technological competitiveness to allow the U.S. to become the center of the global semiconductor industry. Semiconductors are vital for a vast array of technology, from cellphones to electric vehicles, but the industry is dominated by Taiwanese, South Korean and Chinese producers.

Although he supported efforts to boost the state’s semiconductor industry, Cruz voted against the CHIPS and Science Act in 2022, expressing concern that sending grants directly to companies could invite “cronyism and corruption.” All Texas Republicans in the House also voted against the bill except for U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul of Austin and Kay Granger of Fort Worth. Both are defense hawks who have repeatedly warned about growing technological competition with China.

The latest measure, introduced as the Building Chips in America Act, would exempt some projects receiving CHIPS Act funding from having to undergo certain environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. It also would put the Commerce Department in charge of environmental reviews for other projects and streamline reviews by avoiding the need for duplicate studies from other federal agencies.