Despite Politics, Infrastructure Bill Passes the House with Bipartisan Support

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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 publicprivate 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.

Senate Passes Key Infrastructure Legislation; NAM Urges for Timely House Passage

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Today, the Senate voted 95 to 3 to approve essential  infrastructure legislation, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) (S. 2848). The bill includes authorizations for key civil works missions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including inland waterway navigation and port dredging—infrastructure investments that are vital to manufacturers and our competitiveness. The NAM sent a key-vote letter to the Senate on this measure.

The nations deepwater ports and inland waterways help keep transportation costs competitive and are an important means of transport for manufacturers and other industrial shippers. The waterways in particular move products and commodities now valued at $232 billion annually, but unfortunately, more than half of the inland waterways lock chambers have exceeded their 50-year design life. Our nation needs a modern infrastructure that manufacturers can depend on to remain competitive.

Too frequently, Congress has failed to pass water infrastructure legislation for periods as long as seven years, leaving critical projects waiting for a green light from Congress. Manufacturers are encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral support in Congress to return to a regular two-year WRDA process and to get WRDA done this year. On September 13, 141 members of the House sent a letter urging House leadership take up and pass the House version of WRDA (H.R. 5303) this September, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on potential water infrastructure projects that could be included in the bill. Manufacturers urge the House to immediately take up H.R. 5303.

Manufacturers are optimistic that Congress will continue to build on recent infrastructure accomplishments, such as the FAST Act and WRRDA 2014, to address the national backlog of infrastructure projects that threaten American competitiveness.

Politics’ Corrosive Effect on Jobs Has Gone Too Far

By | Economy, Energy, Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

Lost in the news about today’s jobs numbers is politics’ corrosive effect on future labor reports and our nation’s standing in the world. Actions and debates underway in America today are erecting walls to long-term prosperity for millions of manufacturers. It’s wrong that this administration’s policies have caused health care costs to skyrocket, while policymakers use red tape to regulate many manufacturers out of business.

It’s unfortunate that critical energy infrastructure projects, such as the Dakota Access pipeline, are threatened, resulting in less energy independence and slower job growth. And it’s a failure of leadership when those seeking to serve us in elected office attack the very reasons we’re great, such as global trade and our free enterprise system.

Manufacturers—and all Americans—are looking for more than what we see on the campaign trail and by this administration. As we pause to celebrate Labor Day and the achievements of workers that made this country exceptional, policymakers should be reminded that we won’t settle for mediocrity. Americans deserve and expect leaders to partner with us to compete and win every day.

From Poverty to Prosperity

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In a small town once praised for its inspiring ability to overcome obstacles and win support for a high school rocket-building project, there’s another story of opportunity on the horizon. A new pipeline is bringing natural gas to a diverse community in a remote part of the Southwest.

Even after building a 10 megawatt solar facility in recent years, energy was still at a premium, and bringing economic development to Presidio, Texas, has been a real challenge. But as the new pipeline winds its way south, a chili processor is now willing to invest in the city’s future.

Previously, the lack of natural gas had prevented investment, but Don Biad, managing partner of the Biad Chili Company, explained that the pipeline is a game-changer for small manufacturers. “It’s the difference between whether or not our company is profitable or not profitable.”

While this economic opportunity brings a wave of hope, the pipeline also brings environmental protection into view for the local communities because much of the natural gas will power modern electricity just across the border in Mexico. Building the pipeline is also helping to rebuild the railroad—once the lifeblood of trade through the town. That’s because transporting the steel pipes sparked investments in the rails that moved them from manufacturing facilities to the pipeline construction.

Presidio sits where the Rio Conchos joins the Rio Grande in the Big Bend of Texas; as the hardworking people in this international port town like to say, the rivers join us. So when you talk to Brad Newton, executive director of the Presidio Municipal Development District, his can-do-it optimism is anchored in unity.

“We’ve been stuck in the politics of poverty, but now we’re turning the page to the promising politics of progress. And natural gas is our best, new hope for a future—a bright future.”

As Newton put it, “The people of Presidio aren’t looking for a handout; we just want a level playing field in a world economy. That’s what natural gas gives us—a chance to compete.”


Permit Traps—Proceed at Your Own Risk

By | Energy, Infrastructure, Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, Shopfloor Legal, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Government decisions derailing permits for infrastructure projects raise serious questions about future access and the cost of energy in this country. Affordable energy supplies are critical to the viability and competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States, but equally important is the ability to obtain a wide variety of other permits to carry on routine manufacturing operations. After successfully navigating federal, state and local government requirements, as well as opposition from national environmental groups during the permit approval process, a company is authorized to do business as long as it follows the permit.

When a Clean Water Act permit is approved and the individual is in compliance, the act provides a shield against arbitrary enforcement actions and citizen suits. The permit sets those limits. Unfortunately, a company can be forced to defend itself in court when someone tries to claim that the permit requires more than it does. If undermined, the permit shield can be no shield at all, or at least a very expensive one to maintain.

That’s the situation in a case now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond. A citizen’s group wants the court to insert new limits in a permit that the government had considered and decided not to include. In an amicus brief, the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action argued that suits like this upend the process for setting and implementing water quality standards by second-guessing the interpretations of those responsible permitting authorities. They also create serious after-the-fact liability without fair notice.

This kind of regulation by litigation threatens to add another layer of government control, activated by special interest groups, on regulatory decisions. Enforcing permit requirements is appropriate, but changing the terms of a permit in the middle of production is an entirely new problem that increases uncertainty, saps the life from productive investments and dampens our ability to create and sustain jobs.

Senate FAA Vote Signals Proactive Movement for Manufacturing Certainty

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Modern, updated and well-funded infrastructure is critical to manufacturing success in the United States, and tonight the Senate took a proactive step on the Federal Aviation Act Reauthorization. In a bipartisan 95-3 vote, Senate leaders signaled to manufacturers that they are serious about addressing critical infrastructure needs. Manufacturers’ competitiveness hinges on their ability to access infrastructure, and uncertainty caused by the constant cycle of short-term reauthorizations on key issues like the FAA, our national highways system and our inland waterways disadvantage our jobs creators. The NAM key-voted the legislation.

“The NAM supports transportation policies that invest in infrastructure and related systems to ensure U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. Manufacturers rely on the nation’s air transportation system to help support business competitiveness, efficiency and growth. Stable and reliable funding is critical to ensure continued investment in airports, runways and the health of the entire aviation system,” said NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse in the letter.

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State of Manufacturing Tour Day 6 Wrap: Timmons Travels to Texas; Highlights Energy, Environment and Infrastructure Policy Goals

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NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons traveled to Texas on Thursday for the sixth stop in the 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour. With co-host Bell Helicopter’s training facilities in Fort Worth as the backdrop, Timmons delivered a speech focused on shedding light on the perceptions of modern manufacturing as well as calling for action from elected officials and candidates alike to improve our nation’s energy, environment and infrastructure policies as part of the NAM’s detailed “Competing to Win” 2016 platform. Below are some excerpts.

On Access to Energy Resources:
“With our abundance of diverse resources, the United States is uniquely positioned to chart an energy future that raises the standard of living for all Americans. To do so, however, we must utilize every source of affordable, secure energy available. This will mean expediting the permitting process for onshore and offshore energy exploration, opening more federal lands to responsible development, building new pipelines and energy delivery infrastructure and removing regulatory barriers that hamper energy projects of all types. It will also mean maintaining and improving our power grid and ensuring manufacturers can access energy from all sources when they need it, even as we work for cleaner air and lower emissions.”

On Environmental Regulations:
“Too often, our environmental agenda works at cross-purposes with these goals. Two recent examples come to mind. Together they will add a serious weight to our economy, on top of the $330 billion our environmental regulations already cost. The first is the EPA’s new greenhouse gas regulations for power plants, which could, in many areas of the country, raise electricity costs for consumers and manufacturers and compromise energy reliability.

“That’s why the NAM filed hundreds of pages of comments with the EPA on how to better craft this regulation, and why we have asked the EPA to go back to the drawing board and fix this rule before moving forward. We have also asked the Supreme Court for an implementation delay until the many lawsuits challenging the rule have been resolved.

“The second troubling action was the creation of an even tighter standard for ozone. Experts say this could be one of the most expensive environmental regulations in history. At a time when air quality is better than it’s been in decades and billions in investments are being made that will further that progress, many jurisdictions could essentially be closed for business under this new rule if Congress or the courts don’t step in to restore some balance. Otherwise, manufacturers will face restrictions on construction, equipment use and more.”

On Infrastructure:
“Those very same standards could affect transportation infrastructure as well. Areas that cannot meet the overly stringent limits could lose federal highway dollars and be forced to sideline needed projects…ones that would ultimately reduce gridlock and result in cleaner air.”

“Clearly our nation needs to stop viewing energy, environment, infrastructure and the economy through separate lenses. They are all interconnected, and our policies must treat them as such.”

Timmons also touched on the United States’ partnership at this year’s Hannover Messe and the work the NAM is doing in partnership with Siemens Software and the U.S. Department of Commerce to rally manufacturers in the United States to participate and demonstrate our global leadership.

“Now, this leadership is already on display across America, as 12 million people are building our future,” Timmons said. “Manufacturers contribute more than $2 trillion to the national GDP. Here in Texas, manufacturers have a total output of more than $230 billion. If manufacturing in the United States were its own country, it would be the ninth-largest economy in the world.”


Prior to his speech, Timmons toured the Bell Helicopter Training Academy. Fun fact: The Bell X-1 was the first to break the speed of sound!

2016 State of Manufacturing - Recap Blog Post Header

Timmons and the team then traveled to Lockheed Martin for a systems demonstration and tour of the facility, led by Don Kinard, senior technical fellow and one of Lockheed’s lead engineers. Kinard and his team demonstrated laser maps and white technology. Read more about these technologies in Kinard’s guest blog here.

Joint Op-Ed: Choose Leaders Who Would Strengthen Manufacturing
The following op-ed by Jay Timmons and Texas Association of Business State Board Chair Sara Tays ran exclusively in today’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram:  

With less than a month left until Texas votes in its Super Tuesday primary, only a short time remains to size up the candidates seeking to lead our country.

For those who care about the U.S. economy and believe in American exceptionalism, there is only one choice: Vote for candidates who will strengthen manufacturing in the United States.

The U.S. is a nation of makers and doers. When manufacturing succeeds, America succeeds.

In Texas, manufacturers add more than $230 billion to the state economy and employ more than 860,000 people.

Manufacturing has the largest multiplier effect of any industry. A dollar invested in manufacturing adds $1.40 in economic activity.

Manufacturers are helping the United States remain the world’s economic leader. But we cannot continue to compete and win in the global marketplace without the right policies here at home. Read the full op-ed here.

Social Media Wrap Day 6

Check out the highlights from our social media and don’t forget to follow @shopfloorNAM on Twitter and Shopfloor on Facebook for the latest updates from the road.

2016 State of Manufacturing - Recap Blog Post Social Media

Don’t forget Shopfloor is on Instagram. Check out a special Throwback Thursday post from the tour:


One more stop to go! Check back in tomorrow for what’s happening at our final stop in Baltimore, Md. Stay in touch real time by following us on Facebook, Twitter @shopfloorNAM and online at www.nam.org/stateofmfg. Be sure to share your tweets and pics with #stateofmfg and #weareMFG.

From the State of Manufacturing Tour: Texas Association of Business President Highlights Importance of Manufacturing

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Today, Texas Association of Business President Chris Wallace joined NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons at the Bell Helicopter Training Academy in Fort Worth, Texas, for the 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour. Wallace moderated a Q&A forum between Timmons, Siemens Vice President of Aerospace and Defense Strategy David Riemer and Bell Helicopter Executive Vice President of Integrated Operations Gunnar Kleveland. Read More

State of Manufacturing Tour Highlights Need for Critical Infrastructure Funding

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

When NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons visited Tampa today on the State of Manufacturing Tour, he drew attention to one of the most critical pieces of our infrastructure system here in the United States: our ports. The Port of Tampa sees more than 37 million tons of cargo per year and is a vital transportation hub for our exports to China, Japan, India and throughout South America. As Florida’s largest cargo port, it supports 80,000 jobs and adds $15 billion to the economy.

And our port system is vital to the success of manufacturers. Manufacturing supports an estimated 18.5 million jobs in the United States and contributes $2.17 trillion to the economy. For every dollar spent in manufacturing, another $1.40 is added to the economy. It’s the highest multiplier effect of any sector of the economy. When manufacturing succeeds, America succeeds. Yet, obstacles such as crumbling infrastructure remain in the way of forging an economy that lives up to our people and the potential we can unleash. Read More

SOM Tour 2016: New Hampshire Is a Hotbed of Innovative Manufacturing

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A State of Manufacturing Tour guest blog post by Jim Roche, president of the Business & Industry Association, New Hampshire’s statewide Chamber of Commerce 

Today, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) kicked off its 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour in New Hampshire—and with good reason! New Hampshire is a hotbed of innovative manufacturing and home to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary less than two weeks from now.

Here at the Business & Industry Association (BIA) of New Hampshire, the NAM’s official affiliate in the Granite State, we fight every day for policies that support our manufacturers—our state’s most important job creators. We push state legislators, the governor, our congressional delegation and regulators for public policy and commonsense solutions that are friendly to job creators and promote prosperity for New Hampshire businesses.

At today’s stop, the NAM laid out several key public policies that will help put manufacturing in America on solid ground, including important ideas likjim rochee fixing our outdated tax code and upgrading old infrastructure to take us toward a more modern economy.

Today’s tour also highlighted the many ways manufacturers are changing our lives for the better. Manufacturing has grown well beyond the outdated images of mill and textile work, particularly in New England. Today, manufacturing leads in electronics, fabricated metals, machinery and technology. And manufacturing is connecting people across continents. The sector offers outstanding jobs and careers for nearly 68,000 New Hampshire workers. New Hampshire’s manufacturers export almost $4 billion of goods around the world every year, bringing new wealth and economic activity into our state’s economy.

As we move deeper into this important election season, manufacturing voters are asking candidates hard questions about how they will help America compete to win in a global economy. No matter the outcome of the election, we need policies that support today’s diverse and dynamic manufacturers. When manufacturing succeeds, we’re all better off.