Later this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a proposal to modernize existing regulations to speed the deployment of next generation wireless across the country. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr recently unveiled a plan to support the buildout of 5G, noting the need “to update our rules to match this revolutionary new technology.” Manufacturers agree and support Commissioner Carr’s proposal, along with a similar effort in the Senate with Chairman John Thune’s (R-SD) STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act (S. 3157).
Existing regulations for broadband infrastructure were designed for the technology of previous generations of wireless, which required siting decisions for 200-foot towers that would transmit signals over large swaths of land. Next generation broadband will be delivered through multiple “small cells”—devices that are much less intrusive and more much more numerous. The FCC’s plan would cut through a complex web of hurdles at the local level that could delay 5G buildout. It would ensure cities and towns charge reasonable fees, and it would shorten the shot clock for local regulators to act on build-out requests, while maintaining a role for local control over aspects of small cell placement decisions.
Next generation wireless broadband will unlock further innovation across the manufacturing ecosystem. The Internet of Things has transformed the way manufacturers do business, and today’s shop floors are quickly developing and deploying emerging technologies. Manufacturing operations are more data intensive than ever before. Improved processing speeds and increased wireless capacity with 5G will lead to advancements in data-heavy tasks, like those associated with connected devices and Artificial Intelligence.
The private sector is already investing in broadband infrastructure and the innovations that will be powered by 5G technology. Federal policymakers can help by ensuring the regulatory framework keeps pace with the evolving nature of mobile technology. We applaud Commissioner Carr and the Senate’s STREAMLINE Act sponsors for advancing proposals to clear the way for next generation broadband innovation.
Before Open Skies agreements, international commerce was stifled by post–World War II aviation rules that required governments to mandate flight routes between nations. These antiquated rules could not adapt to the aviation needs of a global economy and emerging technologies. In 1992, the United States signed an Open Skies agreement with the Netherlands to provide for unlimited flight between the two nations. Of course, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was, and still is, responsible for ensuring that all airlines—foreign and domestic, passenger and cargo—are safe and airworthy. The bipartisan pursuit of Open Skies agreements created a framework to enable U.S. passenger and cargo airlines to access foreign aviation markets that had previously shut out U.S. air carriers. They also provide manufacturers the ability to access new customers in overseas markets while increasing competition and facilitating global trade.
Manufacturers have been stalwart advocates of these agreements because we export U.S.-made parts and goods across the world and thus depend on air cargo services with the kind of uninterrupted and continuous global reach that only Open Skies agreements can provide. In fact, the Brookings Institution estimates that Open Skies agreements add approximately $4 billion in annual economic gains to consumers. Learn more here.
And so, with the FAA reauthorization process underway and a September 30 authorization deadline looming, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) continues to urge both House and Senate leaders to support current Open Skies agreements because they open markets, promote competition and offer more options for manufacturers to access overseas customers. At the same time, manufacturers urge the Senate to reject proposals that would undermine Open Skies agreements and result in disruptions to the current agreements, jeopardizing manufacturers’ access to international aviation networks. That is why manufacturers stand with the Trump administration’s opposition to the so-called “Flag of Convenience” provision (Section 530) of the House-passed FAA Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4). This provision would create new barriers for foreign carriers to enter U.S. airspace beyond the negotiated standards of our current Open Skies agreements. These new barriers would violate our current agreements and invite retaliatory action against U.S. cargo and passenger air carriers operating across the globe and providing manufacturers access to overseas customers. Learn more here.
Manufacturers need products and parts made in the United States to continue to have the guaranteed delivery to overseas customers that is protected by our current Open Skies agreements, and so we have been active on this issue for some time. In 2015, the NAM underscored to the departments of Commerce, State and Transportation that manufacturers in the United States depend on sales overseas to sustain and grow American operations and U.S.-based employment. And in 2017, the NAM reminded the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that Open Skies bilateral aviation agreements are one of several important tools that help ensure manufacturers’ access to global markets and critical services that support manufacturers in the United States. Now, with the Senate considering Open Skies agreements as part of the FAA reauthorization legislation, the NAM is again speaking out by urging Congress to reject false, so-called “Flags of Convenience” amendments and protect manufacturers’ access to international aviation networks and overseas customers that only these agreements can provide.
“A draft framework was released by the Committee that offers an important, actionable vision…”
“The president’s call for a substantial $1.5 trillion investment is the kind of leadership manufacturers have wanted for a very long time.”
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), in partnership with the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), led two Infrastructure Working Group (IWG) Hill Days on March 6 and 7 to build momentum on Capitol Hill behind a substantial investment in the country’s infrastructure. Over the past two days, representatives of manufacturers, organized labor, agriculture, retail, finance and local government held roughly 50 meetings with congressional leadership and members from the relevant authorizing committees. Some flew into D.C. from as far away as Texas and Iowa to make the case for upgrades to our nation’s infrastructure systems.
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr authored an op-ed in The Hill, Manufacturing and construction are expanding and ready to take on infrastructure package. They said:
“In other words, if we want to keep the momentum going, then Washington needs to enact a substantial infrastructure package as soon as possible. It’s an important message and one we’re taking to Capitol Hill today as part of the Infrastructure Working Group, bringing together a wide range of viewpoints, from labor, to retail, to finance, to agriculture. We are united in our determination to demonstrate broad support for infrastructure and see the type of action we think is necessary.”
The IWG has been meeting monthly for the past year, hearing from key policymakers in Congress and the White House and discussing solutions to address our country’s inadequately funded infrastructure. The group launched its first advocacy initiatives this year. At the beginning of this year’s congressional session, the NAM led an IWG letter signed by more than 100 business groups to the Republican and Democrat leaders in the House and Senate, urging them to develop and advance an infrastructure bill. These Hill Days brought that message directly to key members of the House and Senate.
There’s no doubt we need a substantial infrastructure investment. Republicans and Democrats both recognize that America’s economic competitiveness depends on first-rate infrastructure systems. Key manufacturing, retail and labor leaders made the following statements of support below:
David Farr, NAM Board Chair, Chairman and CEO, Emerson
“The time is now to work together to pass a targeted, substantial investment in modernizing our nation’s infrastructure that includes a more reliable, user-based funding stream to keep building roads, bridges, transit systems and highways far into the future. We can create more jobs, boost growth, save lives and help secure America’s mantle of economic leadership in the process. Manufacturers are all in to get infrastructure done, and we stand ready to do our part and build to win.”
Sean McGarvey, President, North America’s Building Trades Unions
“The Infrastructure Working Group Hill Days will allow congressional leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, to hear from a broad and sizable coalition of stakeholders on the importance of investing in our nation’s infrastructure. The state of our infrastructure presents a real challenge—the 14 affiliated unions of North America’s Building Trades know it, and the American people know it. It is now up to Congress to meet this challenge with a broad, robust, responsible bipartisan infrastructure package, and we are willing to work with our coalition partners and members of Congress to pass a bill that addresses our present infrastructure challenges and creates good job opportunities for the hard-working craft professionals of North America’s Building Trades Unions.”
Matthew Shay, President and CEO, National Retail Federation
“Representing some of the nation’s largest shippers, NRF continues to call on Congress to follow the president’s lead and act on infrastructure this year. If we keep kicking the can down the road, this urgent issue will become even more challenging and costly to address. We hope bipartisan discussions will produce the infrastructure solutions American retailers, workers and consumers have been waiting for.”
The NAM has been a national leader for years on infrastructure and enshrined manufacturers priorities in our “Building to Win” proposal. Manufacturers will continue to lead this push for results and work with lawmakers so that a bipartisan infrastructure investment makes it to the finish line.
On Wednesday, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced that the administration’s infrastructure proposal would be released in the new year. At the same time, Special Assistant to the President for Infrastructure Policy DJ Gribbin joined a bipartisan infrastructure conversation that featured House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), manufacturers, farmers, truckers and infrastructure financiers. Making manufacturing more competitive by advancing an infrastructure package that increases certainty was at the center of one panel discussion, titled “Rural America and an Infrastructure Package.”
Shop floors are commonly located in rural areas and rely on the same vital infrastructure needs as manufacturers in urban areas. Manufacturers look forward to a 2018 infrastructure package that advances and invests in energy, water, broadband and transportation infrastructure projects. Regardless of whether it is a rural or urban area, if ports are clogged, trucks are delayed, power is down or the internet has a lapse, productivity and customer service are impacted.
That said, rural infrastructure faces different challenges in funding and delivering projects given low population levels. They are often not suited to public–private partnerships. During the event, Gribbin outlined that President Donald Trump’s plan would include a special rural component or set-aside to ensure that rural infrastructure is not overlooked.
The National Association of Manufacturers continues to build support among diverse stakeholder groups by advancing a comprehensive infrastructure proposal in the House and Senate.