As the calendar page turns to spring and the snowy parts of our nation defrost, attention turns to the upcoming highway and infrastructure construction season. Too long stitched together by a series of short term funding patches or short term reauthorizations, our nation’s infrastructure is in need of a long term solution to provide consistent funding for much needed upgrades and repairs to our country’s crumbling infrastructure. (continue reading…)
Today, the Senate voted to override President Obama’s veto of a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and even though this vote did not receive the 2/3rds approval needed to pass (failed by a vote of 62-37), it shows a dedication from Senate leadership to this important infrastructure project. This project would create tens of thousands of new jobs, opportunities for working men and women and energy abundance here in the United States. (continue reading…)
Tomorrow is a big day on Capitol Hill for manufacturers who want to continue to leverage technology in their products and processes. Both the House and Senate are holding hearings on how to protect the Internet from unnecessary regulation. These hearings will kick off in earnest the 2015 debate on how to keep the Internet open for business.
We will see some calling for legislation that will provide regulatory certainty to all industries. This certainty will then lead to increased investment in our nation’s communications infrastructure thereby facilitating groundbreaking technological innovations in the products and processes of manufacturers. Others will call for applying outdated, 1930’s-era regulations on a primary tool driving the 21st century economy. (continue reading…)
Today, the National Association of Manufacturers sent a letter to the House of Representatives and Senate expresses support for H.R. 83, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act. The letter, from NAM Senior Vice President, Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse, outlines a number of measures in the legislation that are priorities for the manufacturing sector and will help the economy continue to rebound. (continue reading…)
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons today urged Congress to fulfill its well-established responsibility of facilitating commerce in the United States by returning to a fully-funded, multiyear surface transportation authorization.
Testifying before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Timmons highlighted the importance of the nation’s transportation network to manufacturers across the country, “Manufacturers rely on our nation’s vast interconnected network of roads, railways, airports, inland waterways and ports to support and supply every sector of the economy.”
Timmons was joined by a diverse group of panelists all advocating for a new surface transportation bill, including Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, Mike Hancock of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and Dr. T. Peter Ruane of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
During his testimony, Timmons also highlighted a survey sponsored by the NAM and Building America’s Future that highlights manufacturers’ concerns about America’s roads and bridges, transit and aviation systems and ports. According to the survey of more than 400 manufacturers, a majority believe American infrastructure is in fair or poor shape, while roads in particular are getting worse.
For NAM members, access to a reliable and cost-effective transportation network by land, sea and air is critical to reaching customers here and abroad. To view Timmons’ opening statement, click here. To view the entire hearing, click here.
The President has been a consistent advocate for increased investment in America’s infrastructure and we appreciate the President’s continued attention to the deteriorating condition of our roads, bridges, transit systems, airports, ports and inland waterways. Like the President, manufacturers recognize that America’s infrastructure is resting on a legacy of past investments that have created great economic advantages and it is now time to reverse the deteriorating condition of our nation’s infrastructure.
This is not something that can be accomplished in a year, two years or even with a quick infusion of funding to supplement ongoing infrastructure investments. Manufacturers are eager for Congress and the Administration to work together to develop a long-term investment strategy that will make smart and strategic infrastructure investments designed to enhance our global competitiveness. While the NAM supports the President’s call to streamline environmental reviews and expedite infrastructure project delivery, the proposal to use savings from tax reform as a means to direct additional investments in infrastructure complicates efforts to overhaul our tax code and distracts from the goal of achieving a sustainable stream of funding for our nation’s surface transportation network.
Over the next few months, manufacturers encourage the President to engage in a robust conversation about long-term transportation funding by putting his Administration’s weight behind an effort to return the Highway Trust Fund to solvency and pass a traditional multiyear surface transportation authorization before September 30, 2014 when MAP-21 expires. These are priority issues for manufacturers and the surface transportation authorization currently offers the best and most efficient method for ensuring stable and continuous investments in roads, bridges and transit systems.
U.S. surface transportation is failing to keep pace with the global marketplace, and it’s time to develop federal surface transportation reauthorization legislation that enhances our nation’s infrastructure system and enables manufacturers to compete globally. That was the message today from Caterpillar Group President Stu Levenick.
Levenick, who was testifying at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on building the foundation for the next Surface Transportation Reauthorization, focused on manufacturers’ need for expansion and modernization of our nation’s transportation network:
“Whether the export opportunities are in our hemisphere or on the other side of the world, the goods we seek to sell must travel through a multi-modal transportation system that includes roads, rail, water and air. America needs a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization so that we can begin to rebuild our infrastructure and get back on the road to competitiveness.”
This past September, the NAM released a survey of more than 400 manufacturers, which found a majority believe American infrastructure is in fair or poor shape, while roads in particular are getting worse. In his testimony, Levenick addressed how the current state of our infrastructure compares to our global competitors:
“While other parts of the world are integrating and modernizing their infrastructure to meet the economic challenges of the 21st century, we are failing to act comprehensively and decisively.”
Manufacturers will continue to rally support for broad-based, jobs-creating investment in upgrades, expansion and modernization of our nation’s transportation network.
Yesterday, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) President and CEO Jay Myers visited the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) headquarters in Washington, DC. CME is NAM’s Canadian sister organization and close partner in promoting the manufacturing agenda across both borders. The NAM Communications office sat down for a brief Q&A with Mr. Myers. Here are a few excerpts from the discussion.
NAM Communications: Can you tell us about the CME and its membership?
Mr. Myers: We are Canada’s largest industry trade association, representing over 10,000 members across Canada. We are Canada’s counterpart to the NAM and our job is to represent the interests of manufacturers operating in Canada, of course many of the companies are headquartered in the United States, which is one reason why we work so close with the NAM.
NAM Communications: Can you tell us about how the CME and the NAM work together in both countries?
Mr. Myers: We’ve had a long-standing relationship with the NAM that continues to grow closer and closer as we deal with energy issues, cross border issues, regulatory cooperation issues, and trade policy. It used to be that the NAM and CME were talking about how to build a free trade environment between the United States and Canada, and now it’s about how we take that great model that we developed here with NAFTA and apply to it grow business around the world, get access to new markets, and make sure we’ve got a competitive energy infrastructure base here in North America.
NAM Communications: What does the Keystone project mean to Canadian manufacturers and to the Canadian economy in General?
Mr. Myers: Keystone is a very strategic issue for the Canadian economy. It’s about the ability to supply oil from Western Canada to not only one of the world’s largest markets, but also to the refineries that have been set up to handle that market on the Gulf Coast. Without Keystone, the oil coming out of Western Canada is kept from entering this major market, and there are really only two other alternatives. In Canada, because we need access to international markets, pipelines will be built east and west. If pipelines are going to the Pacific, the oil may possibly go the West Coast of the United States, but more likely to China. Likewise, pipelines are being built to Eastern Canada, and that oil is going to Europe. Unfortunately, this issue has become politicized. Clearly, if Keystone is turned down, it’s going to be very difficult to go ahead with any major north-south pipeline. Again, it’s a very important strategic issue for the Canadian economy. I don’t think people truly appreciate the chill that turning down Keystone will put on the Canadian’s economic relationship with the United States. For investment generally, it’s going to be very important that we see that pipeline succeed.
Approval and construction of the Keystone pipeline is a priority for manufacturers, and Mr. Myer’s comments illustrate exactly why this project goes beyond energy security and new jobs. It’s about fostering an environment in which economic growth and continued global competition can take place. As noted by Mr. Myers, denial of the Keystone pipeline would do just the opposite by chilling Canadian and U.S. economic relations.
Today, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons joined other business leaders at the Infrastructure for the Future Summit, an event sponsored by NAM member company Volvo and the American Highway Users Alliance, which focused on the looming issues facing the nation’s infrastructure and specific challenges that threaten our economy.
During a panel discussion with leaders from the American Association of State Highway & Transportation, the National Retail Federation, and Cowan Systems, Timmons highlighted the importance of infrastructure to manufacturers’ ability to grow and compete, noting that “infrastructure matters to manufacturers. I hear concerns about the state of our infrastructure from NAM members constantly and consistently, regardless of their size or sector. From the world’s largest multinationals to family businesses up and down Main Streets all across America, everyone recognizes that our aging infrastructure is a competitiveness problem.”
Timmons also highlighted the importance of the federal government’s role in funding the national infrastructure, noting a recent NAM poll of manufacturing that found that 67 percent of manufacturers say that infrastructure is so important that all options to fund it should be on the table, and over 66 percent doubt that it is positioned to respond to the competitive demands of a growing economy.
Timmons concluded by reiterating the NAM’s intention to push for a return to a “fully funded, multiyear reauthorization that, offers certainty and support for infrastructure projects that improve safety, facilitate trade and create jobs. The road ahead is long, but manufactures are confident we will succeed.”
The recent passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2013 (H.R. 3080) marked a significant victory for manufacturers. The long-overdue reauthorization invested in our nation’s 12,000 miles of inland and coastal waterways, which are responsible for transporting products and commodities valued at $185 billion per year. With WRRDA completed, our attention is focused on what is poised to be a significant year ahead for transportation policy.
Federal funding for highway and transit programs is set to expire Sept. 30, 2014. Congress passed the current authorization—the two-year, $105 billion Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)—after three years and ten short-term extensions of the previous funding bill. The NAM is working to ensure a robust, multi-year surface transportation reauthorization that builds on the bipartisan success of WRRDA. Manufacturers cannot afford the uncertainty that results from patchwork legislation.
Any transportation funding bill must, of course, address imminent Highway Trust Fund shortfalls. This could prove to be the biggest challenge in the reauthorization. Current predictions place the Highway Trust Fund on a path to insolvency sometime in 2015. The vast amount of investment needed for functional highway and transit programs is not something that states can shoulder on their own. If funding ceases, the entire manufacturing supply chain would be at risk. The Highway Trust Fund operates on user fees, and the NAM urges members of Congress to maintain that model as they negotiate a long-term fix.
Manufacturers are in agreement that their competitiveness hinges on sound infrastructure. A majority of manufacturers participating in a joint NAM/Building America’s Future survey said that U.S. infrastructure is in fair or poor shape, while roads in particular are getting even worse. U.S. infrastructure is not positioned to respond to the competitive demands of a growing economy. The NAM is hoping to change that through the next transportation bill. An investment in infrastructure is an investment in manufacturing.
Robyn Boerstling is the director of transportation and infrastructure policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.