Republicans and Democrats unified today to advance an infrastructure agenda in the 115th Congress. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) began the hearing “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America” by referencing a letter to President Donald Trump from nearly 400 manufacturing, labor, business, construction and policy groups urging for a broad infrastructure bill that addresses all types of infrastructure and includes a solution to make the Highway Trust Fund solvent. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) worked with a broad business coalition to secure support for the effort from national organizations as well as local and state groups from every state in the country.
Committee members heard a united message about the immediate need to upgrade transportation and infrastructure systems to ensure U.S. global competitiveness. Testimony came from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and four NAM members:
- Frederick Smith, chairman and CEO of FedEx Corporation
- David MacLennan, chairman and CEO of Cargill, Incorporated
- Ludwig Willisch, president and CEO of BMW of North America
- Mary Andringa, chair of the board of Vermeer Corporation
Andringa shared Vermeer’s Lean journey and the steps taken to reduce waste and increase efficiency in the manufacturing process.
“If ports are clogged, trucks are delayed, power is down or the internet has a lapse, productivity and customer service are impacted,” said Andringa. “This is not just my story. Across the manufacturing sector, transportation logistics matter, and congestion—whether at a port or on a crowded highway—is waste that drives the consumer’s cost up like a hidden tax.”
The NAM will continue to educate new members of the 115th Congress about the central role infrastructure plays on the shop floor and will continue to lead advocacy efforts supporting a 21st-century infrastructure system. In “Building to Win,” the NAM described the immediate need to update our roads, bridges, transit systems, ports, inland waterways, broadband and telecommunications networks, airports and runways, pipelines, energy infrastructure, drinking water and wastewater systems and railways. The blueprint includes solutions, such as possible funding and financing mechanisms, as well as good governance policy reforms, such as streamlining permitting.
While manufacturers were encouraged by President Trump’s campaign promise to rebuild American infrastructure and make it “second to none,” accomplishing this will require continued advocacy and education efforts to gather the bipartisan support to encourage a significant change from the status quo.