The Senate returned from its August recess and health care concerns continues to loom. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee kicked off a series of hearings exploring weaknesses of the individual insurance market that have developed as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Because a legislative effort to repeal and replace Obamacare failed in the Senate in July, these hearings signal a fresh start and a bipartisan approach to building consensus on health care reform. Read More
Infrastructure Week 2017 reached record high levels of participation by doubling both the number of events that occurred in 2016 as well as the number of affiliate members that joined in calling on policymakers to invest in infrastructure now. According to first reports, more than 1,500 people contacted their representatives or senators last week alone. Since May 1, Infrastructure Week made 175 million social media impressions. Our collective voice was loud, and it was heard.
To ensure manufacturers hold President Donald Trump to his commitment to make U.S. infrastructure “second to none,” the call to action must continue from diverse, united stakeholders who recognize that infrastructure is the backbone of a strong manufacturing economy. We need every manufacturing employee and company to engage in this call for infrastructure because our work is not done.
Kathryn Karol is the vice president of global government and corporate affairs for Caterpillar Inc. She stated,
“At Caterpillar, we believe that every week should be Infrastructure Week. We are pleased that the president and Congress agree that wise investments in infrastructure must be a national priority. Caterpillar and our customers stand ready to deliver on those investments and make infrastructure an engine for economic growth and job creation in the U.S.”
Please keep the momentum of Infrastructure Week going by using the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) infrastructure toolkit to contact members of Congress with emails, phone calls and meetings. The NAM will continue to push for a comprehensive plan to revitalize the nation’s transportation, energy, water and broadband infrastructure. This week, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons furthered the NAM call that now is the time to build with a piece published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, titled “Time to act on Brent Spence Bridge and nation’s crumbling infrastructure.”
During the fifth-annual Infrastructure Week, the NAM, as a steering committee member, led efforts to unite varied voices behind a broad call for infrastructure investment. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gave the keynote address at the launch event on Monday, followed by a discussion between Timmons and Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan on how manufacturers depend on infrastructure. C-SPAN covered the event.
Ingersoll-Rand Chairman and CEO and NAM Executive Committee member Michael Lamach represented the NAM in an interview on CNBC. Manitowoc Company President and CEO Barry Pennypacker authored a Shopfloor blog on local infrastructure needs and represented the NAM in a roundtable discussion with congressional leaders, business executives and Department of Transportation special advisers. Also on the NAM Shopfloor blog, Fluor Corporation Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Vice Chair David Seaton explored the benefits of public–private partnerships, and NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg outlined manufacturers’ dependence on robust energy infrastructure. The NAM co-hosted an official Infrastructure Week Congressional Reception on Wednesday, May 17, featuring congressional co-chair Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).
The Ports of Indiana and American Association of Port Authorities hosted an infrastructure roundtable in Indianapolis that included participation from NAM members Subaru of Indiana, ArcelorMittal and the Indiana Manufacturers Association. The meeting also included federal officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Transportation as well as the Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner. The discussion was about advocating major infrastructure improvements, including the Soo Locks and specifically the Poe Lock in Upper Peninsula Michigan, which every Midwest steel manufacturer relies on. A Shopfloor blog can be found here.
The NAM’s efforts in combination with the efforts of thousands of other Infrastructure Week participants were extraordinary, but we must stay engaged. A comprehensive, pro-manufacturing infrastructure package faces political and philosophical challenges. Despite differences, we must stand united in support of overdue infrastructure revitalization to bolster economic competitiveness here in the United States.
Today, the American Society of Civil Engineers released the “Infrastructure Report Card.” Unfortunately, America’s infrastructure again receives a D+ rating. Marlin Steel Wire Products President and Owner and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Small and Medium Manufacturers Group Chair Drew Greenblatt described the impact our aging infrastructure system has on manufacturers. Greenblatt also authored an article, titled “Five Keys to Infrastructure Investment & Why It’s Critical for U.S. Manufacturing.” Read More
We all agree that America’s infrastructure must be updated and brought into the 21st century. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has been leading efforts to build consensus on how to fund, build and deliver infrastructure that will improve manufacturers’ global competitiveness. Today, the NAM—in partner with leading industry and labor groups—released four principles for Congress and the administration to use as they draft an infrastructure bill. The four principles are as follows: Read More
Amid the partisan rancor of Washington, D.C., a small but important development occurred in the House beyond the overwhelming bipartisan vote of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016. Two years ago, Congress pledged to return to approving WRDA every other year. The promise was kept, and it was in large part due to the long-term education and advocacy efforts of a range of groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which continued after the previous WRDA bill was signed into law.
Water resources bills are responsible for authorizing or approving construction projects for our inland waterways and ports as well as other Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works projects. When Congress fails to pass these bills, projects vital to the movement of U.S.-manufactured goods are put on hold. WRDA 2016 includes approval for infrastructure improvements, such as three lock and dam projects on the Upper Ohio River. According to the Corps, all of these lock and dam systems were built before 1936 and have structural and capacity deficiencies that increase both economic inefficiencies and consumer costs. According to the Port of Pittsburgh, the Ohio River System supports 53,000 jobs mostly for the mining and manufacturing industries. Passing legislation that improves our navigable waterways makes manufacturers more competitive in the global economy.
Unfortunately, the House WRDA bill became entangled in partisan debate surrounding government funding for safe drinking water programs to help communities like Flint, Mich., as well as a possible shutdown. In the end, a bipartisan Flint amendment was included in the bill containing $170 million for drinking water aid without violating House jurisdiction or budget rules. While the amendment passed with bipartisan support, manufacturers recognize that America’s water infrastructure—from drinking water to wastewater—urgently needs investment. The NAM has long supported policy reforms that increase access to private activity bonds and innovative public–private partnerships for water infrastructure projects.
The ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) remained opposed to the bill because of the elimination of a bipartisan provision that would increase access to dredging money within the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The NAM strongly supported the provision. Unfortunately, it violated the House Budget rules, subjecting the entire bill to a budget point of order and jeopardizing passage of WRDA as a whole. The NAM will continue to urge Congress to increase access to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure that user fees collected for harbor maintenance are spent on harbor maintenance. For example, the Brazos Island Harbor in Texas has a backlog of dredging projects that need to be completed to support the 44,000 jobs and $3 billion of economic activity at the Port of Brownsville. Without essential dredging and other maintenance, manufacturers’ ability to export our products will be put at risk.
The next step will be for House and Senate leaders to iron out the differences between the two bills. The NAM will advocate WRDA to be signed into law by the end of the year because these infrastructure investments are essential to economic competitiveness.
Today, the House passed H.R. 636 to extend the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs until September 30, 2017. While manufacturers are eager for the long-term certainty that a full FAA authorization brings, the 15-month bipartisan extension negotiated between the House and Senate is a next-best option. Manufacturers appreciate the effort to avoid stop-gap extensions, which create instability and disadvantage our job creators when a bipartisan bill like this can’t get over the finish line.
To reach bipartisan consensus, the bill also includes some modest policy provisions on safety and security that were negotiated between House and Senate aviation leaders. Of note, the legislation includes additional guidance on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drone use, specifically for emergency response and critical infrastructure. The innovative applications of drones are endless and show great promise for manufacturers who are looking to UAS technology to inspect and secure facilities and other land-based assets. This guidance takes a practical approach to ensure safety remains the top priority while realizing the potential of this new technology.
With a 15-month reprieve, there is still important work to accomplish, and the NAM urges Congress to seek a long-term bipartisan FAA reauthorization ahead of the September 30, 2017, deadline. Reforms that would enhance the competitiveness of U.S. aerospace manufacturing through improvements to the FAA’s certification process for aircraft design and modifications are critical and should not be delayed. As aviation technology advances and manufacturing becomes more innovative, red tape and bureaucratic inefficiencies pose a risk to our globally competitive and enviable position in this sector. The FAA international certification process must not encumber, but strengthen American exports of aerospace products, which grew its annual trade surplus to a record $82.5 billion in 2015.
Today, Congress acted to keep critical FAA programs and the world’s largest aviation market open without further delay, and manufacturers urge the Senate to quickly get the FAA extension to the president’s desk. However, Congress must now recommit to working on a bipartisan, long-term bill that addresses critical reforms that support manufacturing competitiveness as well as bold funding solutions to tackle growing airport infrastructure demand, which create backlogs that cost American travelers and manufacturers billions of dollars annually.