A new International Maritime Organization (IMO) rule requiring shippers to physically weigh containers and their contents before being loaded at the port of origin is expected to come into effect on July 1, 2016. This amendment to the long-standing International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty places an additional burden on shippers (both exporters and importers) to obtain and certify the Verified Gross Mass (VGM), or combined weight of cargo and the container. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is the responsible agency for overseeing and enforcing this new requirement, and it will be implemented around the world by the other 161 signatories to the treaty.
Manufacturers appreciate the balanced approach to lithium battery transportation by air as outlined in Section 615 of the H.R. 4441, the Aviation, Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, introduced by Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) last week. The provision will ensure the continued harmonization of lithium battery regulations with international standards and implement a balanced approach that ensures safety while protecting commerce and vital supply chains. In addition to building off current law as outlined in Section 828 of the bipartisan FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the new provision includes stepped-up enforcement and education efforts as well as the establishment of a Federal Advisory Committee to help ensure proper information sharing and best practices for safe lithium battery shipments.
The NAM joined a broad coalition of interests and communicated strong support of the AIRR Act’s lithium battery provision in a letter today to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman and the Aviation Subcommittee chairman. The NAM also hosted a panel of experts on the Hill from across the manufacturing supply chain for a Shopfloor event that focused on the need to maintain consistent globally harmonized standards for shipments of these batteries and products containing them. Read More
Manufacturers are pleased that House and Senate leaders have reached a bipartisan agreement to extend the December 31st Positive Train Control (PTC) deadline. This agreement will be reflected in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 as a mark-up approaches on Thursday.
In spite of this welcome announcement, the urgent need to extend the PTC deadline continues. The House and Senate must both pass the agreed-upon language on a piece of legislation that will achieve the President’s signature by the end of the month so that manufacturers are not adversely impacted. Read More
The need for competitive infrastructure has never been more apparent, and manufacturers appreciate the bipartisan introduction of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 (STRR). It’s a sign that things in Washington can get back on track, and the work of the Senate over the summer months to advance H.R. 22, the DRIVE Act, provided needed momentum.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) is ready to forge ahead to a committee mark-up this week with the support of Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR). While Congress is currently holding off on addressing the long-term funding sources to address the imbalances facing the Highway Trust Fund, the STRR offers the opportunity to advance several key issues that will make our transportation and infrastructure systems more competitive.
When the Texas Transportation Institute released updated figures on the cost of congestion this August, reaching $160 billion annually in wasted time and fuel, it was a reminder that increased logistics costs due to congestion and deteriorating road conditions are real threats to manufacturers’ competitiveness. Facing mounting political pressure in the face of House Republican leadership uncertainty, House Transportation Committee leaders made a strong statement by putting their transportation authorization proposal in play.
As always, the process of delivering a highway bill will continue to play out in the days and weeks ahead. Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio have made the right move, and manufacturers appreciate their commitment to begin the process of addressing the nation’s transportation challenges.
All railroads, freight and commuter, are mandated by statute to install new technology equipment known as Positive Train Control (PTC) by December 31, 2015. This complex and expensive $9 billion mandate was a response to a deadly 2008 California commuter rail crash.
Freight railroads have invested billions in the testing, development, purchase and installation of PTC components. The PTC deployment is an unprecedented operational challenge that requires the entire rail network, public and private, to develop, test and implement this new equipment. The December 2015 deadline is impossible to meet and this fact was confirmed by the GAO last week. As a result, significant service impacts, for all manufacturers who ship by rail, are anticipated. Rail carriers will not be able to operate when they can’t meet the terms and conditions of this statutory mandate. Read More
The House of Representatives left Washington to begin its August recess in the middle of a critical Senate debate on a long-term transportation measure, the DRIVE Act. In spite of the House choosing not to wait around a little longer to take up the Senate bill which also included the much needed Export-Import bank reauthorization, the Senate still gave the legislation a strong bipartisan showing and passed H.R. 22 in a 65-34 vote. Read More
With federal highway and transit programs headed into shutdown mode in just 9 short days, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) today plans to revisit and proceed with his intention to move H.R. 22, the “Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act” – legislation that represents a six-year commitment to surface transportation investments.
While the action to move the transportation legislation to the floor of the Senate does not ensure a six-year transportation bill by the end of the month, the Majority Leader’s commitment, with the help of unlikely ally Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to get the DRIVE Act passed in the Senate is good news and a welcome development by manufacturers. Read More
Manufacturers need competitive infrastructure to thrive in today’s global economy. Unfortunately, the nation’s infrastructure is outdated and resting on a legacy built by previous generations.
Transportation extensions can no longer be a substitute for action. Manufacturers have been asking Congress for a well-funded, multiyear transportation bill and the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) leadership has delivered. Today, Senators Inhofe, Boxer, Vitter and Carper introduced a long-term highway reauthorization bill, The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act, that will provide a funded, multi-year extension that addresses future growth and need for manufacturers. Read More
Aviation is an American success story. As a nation, our aerospace and aviation industries are second to none and have helped lead the way in a competitive global marketplace. For over twenty years, the United States has been a driver of aviation market liberalization and achieved Open Skies bilateral aviation agreements with over 100 nations around the world. These agreements enable access to foreign aviation markets that had previously restricted U.S. air carriers and provide the ability to offer new services in overseas markets, increase competition and facilitate global trade. Read More
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.