Big Law Lobbyists’ Chip Bill Makes Money And Offers Victory



Congress’s passage of the chip bill validates Big Law’s decision to push for legislation that aims to make American manufacturing more competitive with China.

Covington & Burling, Arnold & Porter and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld are among the firms that each received at least six-figure payouts in the first half from interests promoting the bill. Companies have worked for companies such as Samsung Electronics Co., Qualcomm Inc. and Micron Technology Inc.

“It’s been months since the dam broke,” Kevin O’Neill, chairman of legislative practice at Arnold & Porter, said in an interview. The work skyrocketed when “suddenly more players realized this had a significant chance of going somewhere”.

The Chips and Science Act, which spends $52 billion to boost U.S. semiconductor production, is a central part of the law firms’ bid to top 2021’s record lobbying revenue in a year with few major laws that have been passed. The House approved the bill on Thursday, after it passed the Senate on July 27.

Several major law firms are on course to hit or surpass last year’s record high of $1.92 billion, first- and second-quarter filings under the Privacy Act show. disclosure of lobbying. The biggest chip companies have been willing participants in the effort, spending nearly $20 million in the first half of the year, Bloomberg News reported.

Qualcomm, the biggest chipmaker running in smartphones, paid Covington nearly $3 million in the first two quarters, the largest amount ever sent to an outside firm to pressure the industry, filings show. . Covington had eight people working on bills related to semiconductors and Chinese competition, according to filings.

Covington has deployed Michele Pearce, whose resume includes serving as senior adviser to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and assistant general counsel for legislation at the U.S. Department of Defense. Chip technologies are “essentially the engine of our national security agenda,” Pearce said in an interview.

She worked alongside Bill Wichterman, former adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Holly Fechner, former policy director to former Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

Arnold & Porter won $330,000 to lobby on behalf of Samsung, the top memory chip maker. The company has outlined possible plans to spend nearly $200 billion at 11 factories in Texas, Bloomberg News reported July 21, citing documents filed in the state.

Arnold & Porter lobbyists pushing Samsung’s case included Marne Marotta, who previously worked for Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) , According to the company’s website. His lobbying focused on ensuring companies would get at least a “share” of the investments the bill calls for, Marotta said in an interview.

Token Lobbying Blitz

Micron Technology Inc., the largest U.S. memory semiconductor maker, spent $200,000 in the first six months of the year to pressure Akin Gump, records show.

The law firm relied on former House Ways and Means Committee staff director Jeffrey McMillen to lead its work on semiconductor investment tax credits, according to public filings.

“We had another very busy quarter,” Brian Pomper, co-head of Akin Gump’s public law and policy practice, said in a statement, adding that tax, climate and health policy issues were driving also activity.

K&L Gates, which received $100,000 from Lattice Semiconductor Corp. to lobby, used former Tennessee Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon to make his point, said Paul Stimers, co-chair of the company’s public policy group. Gordon is a former chairman of the House Science Committee. The firm also leaned on Stacy Ettinger and Scott Gelbman, former staffers of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, (D-NY).

While some lawmakers such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have criticized the bill as payroll for chip companies, Stimers said he’s eager to push back against the idea.

“In all of the conversations I’ve had with companies active on the bill, the focus has been on the strategic implications for our global competitiveness and the geopolitics of the United States, not on corporate balance sheets.” , did he declare.

“Extraordinary” Times

The passage of the flea bill marks one of the few legislative victories for President Joe Biden’s administration, which has encountered obstacles in its efforts to implement legislation targeting areas such as taxes on companies and renewable energies.

But the prospect of transformative legislation being approved has been enough to have companies in multiple sectors pouring money into Washington.

“In practice, you have to be nervous because you’re talking about a recession,” said Marc Lampkin, public policy manager at Brownstein Hyatt. “The next Congress could be just as slow moving forward.”

Still, Lampkin added, you “have spending measures here in Washington and the continued implementation of key pieces of legislation.”

Arnold & Porter’s O’Neill said the shock tax, climate and health care deal Schumer reached this week with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVa., is the latest indication that the pace of “extraordinary” activity in Washington is not slowing down.

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