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Transportation Can’t Wait!

Today, the Senate voted to pass H.R. 2353, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015. The House passed the measure earlier this week in a 387-13 vote. The NAM sent Key Vote letters to the House and Senate this week in support of the short-term measure that will keep federal highway and transit projects around the nation funded until July 31.

H.R. 2353 is not the solution that manufacturers envisioned when the 114th Congress commenced in January 2015.  This legislation is yet another temporary fix to a problem that has grown in size and scope over the years. Dealing with long-term transportation funding at a later date is not leadership.

With deteriorating roads and bridges, aging transit systems and growing maintenance backlogs across the states, Congress is telling manufacturers, businesses and the American people that transportation can wait.

Transportation can’t wait. Several small and large manufacturers took time away from their shop floors last week and came to Washington to keep making the case for transportation infrastructure before Members of Congress and at the White House.

NAM Member Scott Stevens, President of Dimension Fabricators in Schenectady, New York fabricates reinforced steel. He came to Washington last week from New York to articulate the importance of a well-funded, multi-year highway bill and explain the real-world impacts when states pull back infrastructure funding due to the long-term uncertainty of a federal transportation authorization. Scott was joined by NAM Member Stephen Roy, President of Mack Trucks in Greensboro, NC, a subsidiary of the Volvo Group. Scott Stevens has several Mack Trucks in his fleet and when he does well and grows, he buys more Mack Trucks.  Scott and Stephen also met NAM Member Ron Dickerson, a Vice President and General Manager at Nucor Steel Indiana in Crawfordsville, IN. Dimension Fabricators and Mack are also Nucor customers. The customer and supplier relationship unfolded during meetings on the Hill and this what happens when manufacturers tell a powerful story.

While assurances have been made that the surface transportation authorization is critically important in this Congress, this week’s transportation vote was not a win for manufacturers. It’s simply another day to keep things moving and avoids the embarrassing spectacle of a shutdown.

For NAM Member Astec Industries whose President and CEO Ben Brock also traveled to Washington last week, the temporary move is yet another disappointment and represents the frustration manufacturers feel about Washington. Over the past few weeks, Astec has worked to mobilize its employees and the communities where it manufactures and it will continue efforts.

Manufacturers can’t wait. Congress must act.

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Industry Leaders, Mayors and Local Leaders Unite Over Infrastructure Need

Today, as a part of the third annual Infrastructure Week, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons and Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) General President Terry O’Sullivan participated in a press event with mayors from around the country and Former Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Participants at the event highlighted the need for updated infrastructure and a reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund. Leaders from business, labor, and mayors of cities around America also kicked where advocates will meet with nearly 300 Members of Congress and their offices throughout the day and week. (continue reading…)

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From the Front Lines of Infrastructure Week

As Infrastructure Week enters its third year, the effort has grown and gone national, transforming from a handful of events planned by a small group of organizations into a nationwide initiative. This week, more than 80 affiliated organizations will host over 40 events from Alaska to Washington, DC. It is safe to declare that no infrastructure policy issue will be left unaddressed this week.

On Tuesday, the NAM joined legal reform expert Philip Howard and his non-profit Common Good, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP for an expert-led discussion on Rethinking Infrastructure Approvals. (continue reading…)

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From the Front Lines of Infrastructure Week

As the May 31st deadline for the current surface transportation authorization, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) fast approaches, Congress appears poised to make a move that has become all too familiar in the transportation world – just extend it.

Today, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons helped kick-off Infrastructure Week here in Washington and highlighted the extension habit at a morning event hosted by Bloomberg Government featuring leading government, labor and business community leaders – Vice President Joe Biden, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Siemens USA President and CEO Eric Spiegel and the Chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Schnitzer Steel Industries President and CEO Tamara Lundgren.   (continue reading…)

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Manufacturers Echo Call from Halls of Congress to Conclude Negotiations and Keep Commerce Moving

Manufacturers are encouraged that Members of Congress continue to weigh-in and urge a “swift resolution between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)” as the two parties continue to negotiate a new labor contract under contentious circumstances.

Today’s bipartisan press conference sheds further light on the impacts different sectors of the economy experience as each day passes without a new labor agreement and West Coast port productivity continues in a free fall.  (continue reading…)

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Time to Restart Trucking Hours of Service Rules

As Congress works to wrap-up its legislative business this week, the House has an important opportunity to improve road safety and correct a very flawed trucking regulation that the Obama Administration implemented last year.

Manufacturers strongly support bipartisan language approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee to be included in the FY 2015 omnibus appropriations conference package that would require further study of the 34-hour trucking Hours of Service restart provision and provide a one-year pause of significantly burdensome requirements to determine whether changes are necessary. (continue reading…)

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West Coast Port Slowdowns Are Hurting Manufacturers

Contract negotiations over West Coast ports labor contracts are quickly deteriorating without a clear solution and manufacturers are growing increasingly concerned about both domestic and global impacts of a possible shutdown. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturers are Making the Case for Transportation Infrastructure

Today the House voted to pass H.R. 5021, Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014. NAM sent a Key Vote letter in support of the legislation that will replenish the Highway Trust Fund and avoid the August low balance scenario that is threatening approximately 100,000 road, bridge and transit construction sites and 700,000 jobs across the country.

The legislation also authorizes an extension of critical federal highway and transit programs for eight months after the current authorization expires on September 30.

NAM worked with over 60 manufacturing associations around the nation to help echo the message to Congress that fixing the Highway Trust Fund cannot be left to chance and Congress must accomplish this before August recess. Manufacturers are leading the debate and urged Congress to make it this month’s priority to restore the Highway Trust Fund to a condition of solvency.

The White House hosted a timely meeting last week on infrastructure that included Vice President Biden and a diverse range of corporate leaders from manufacturing, construction, trucking and other industries.

NAM Board Chair and Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman and NAM member and BNSF Executive Chairman Matt Rose helped lead a conversation on globally competitive infrastructure with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and White House National Economic Council Director Jeffrey Zients. Click here for Oberhelman’s op-ed, “Congress Must Move on Highway Trust Fund,” in The Hill.

NAM Member Chris Toomey, Senior Vice President of Procurement for global manufacturer BASF was among several other NAM members who traveled to Washington for this special session. Toomey encouraged participants to look at advocacy for better infrastructure as supportive of economic growth, citing growing manufacturing investments in the Gulf Coast that will require competitive infrastructure.

The Senate is expected to consider H.R. 5021 next week.

There is still much work to be done. Passing a fully funded, multi-year surface transportation is the next order of business for improving infrastructure. Manufacturers are making the case that investing in infrastructure supports competitiveness, growth and jobs.

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Fix the Fund

As the House and Senate wrap up their work in advance of a Fourth of July recess and Americans prepare for Independence Day celebrations, a looming crisis threatens work at 100,000 transportation construction sites and 700,000 jobs around the country. While summer construction projects can be inconvenient to travelers, modernizing our roads, bridges and transit systems is critically important to our safety, efficiency and global competitiveness.  It would be far worse if the construction work never took place or even ceased temporarily.

Unfortunately, the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) which supplies needed funding to states and localities is running on fumes and will no longer be able to meet its fiscal obligations to the states in August, further threatening jobs and continued economic recovery.  All at a time when our infrastructure continues to age and deteriorate, confirmed by a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers.  This is not a time to cut back or postpone for a later date to solve.

Congress only has a few weeks to replenish the fund when it returns from its break or work will stop at these 100,000 construction sites. It’s good news that leaders from the Senate Committee on Finance and House Committee on Ways and Means are coming together to start these important conversations about improving the fiscal health of the HTF. Manufacturers encourage the House and Senate to achieve bipartisan solutions that will improve the balance of the Highway Trust Fund as we seek a well-funded multiyear surface transportation authorization.

Manufacturers need competitive infrastructure to thrive in today’s global economy. Our infrastructure is out of date and resting on a legacy built by previous generations.  Manufacturers responded to an infrastructure survey conducted by the NAM and the Building America’s Future Educational Fund last year. Two-thirds doubt that our infrastructure is position to respond to the competitive demands of a growing economy.  Worse, 70 percent reported that roads are getting worse.

This issue goes far beyond state transportation departments and road builders. When construction is put on hold, manufacturing is on hold too.

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New Report Shows Impact of West Coast Port Shutdown

Manufacturers and retailers today banded together to impart the importance of keeping the West Coast ports open for business as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and its employer group, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) negotiate a new labor contract that expires on Monday, June 30.

A new report commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the National Retail Federation (NRF) models the potential impact on U.S. employment, output  and income if port operations were to cease  for 5, 10 and 20 days at 30 West Coast ports along the continental United States. The results are sobering and if such disruptions occur as a result of a protracted dispute between the negotiating parties, the economic consequences would be significant and widespread.

Port Closure Full Report_v08-table1

The U.S. economy could lose as much as $2.5 billion per day if a prolonged West Coast port shutdown occurs. With a still-recovering economy and disappointing first quarter growth, the harm to the nation’s employment, GDP and consumer purchasing power would be felt from coast to coast.

Manufacturers need competitive and efficient ports to ship and receive critical commodities and finished products in order to keep businesses running and people employed. Cargo moving through West Coast ports represents an economic value of 12.5 percent of U.S.GDP.

The chain reactions of a prolonged dispute should offer pause to the ILWU and the PMA and the results of this new analysis should be reason enough to keep negotiating, without disruptions.

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