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.
As the Ways and Means Committee finished the work of amending the House tax reform bill, Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) stated that efforts are already underway to begin consideration of legislation to address key Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes that are set to go into effect in 2018. This includes both the job-killing medical device tax and health insurance tax (HIT). In a statement, Chairman Brady promised, “We will move to these important health policies separately and immediately after conclusion of our tax reform efforts.” To read the full statement, click here. Read More
On Wednesday, October 11, Associated Industries of Missouri President and CEO Ray McCarty testified on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) at a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing, titled “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Highways and Transit Stakeholders’ Perspectives.” Other participants in the hearing included Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna, Granite Construction President and CEO James Roberts, North America’s Building Trades Unions Secretary-General Brent Booker and Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. Read More
The Senate returned from its August recess, and health care concerns continue to loom. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee kicked off a series of hearings exploring weaknesses of the individual insurance market that have developed as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Because a legislative effort to repeal and replace the ACA failed in the Senate in July, these hearings signal a fresh start and a bipartisan approach to building consensus on health care reform. Read More
Infrastructure Week 2017 reached record high levels of participation by doubling both the number of events that occurred in 2016 as well as the number of affiliate members that joined in calling on policymakers to invest in infrastructure now. According to first reports, more than 1,500 people contacted their representatives or senators last week alone. Since May 1, Infrastructure Week made 175 million social media impressions. Our collective voice was loud, and it was heard.
To ensure manufacturers hold President Donald Trump to his commitment to make U.S. infrastructure “second to none,” the call to action must continue from diverse, united stakeholders who recognize that infrastructure is the backbone of a strong manufacturing economy. We need every manufacturing employee and company to engage in this call for infrastructure because our work is not done.
Kathryn Karol is the vice president of global government and corporate affairs for Caterpillar Inc. She stated,
“At Caterpillar, we believe that every week should be Infrastructure Week. We are pleased that the president and Congress agree that wise investments in infrastructure must be a national priority. Caterpillar and our customers stand ready to deliver on those investments and make infrastructure an engine for economic growth and job creation in the U.S.”
Please keep the momentum of Infrastructure Week going by using the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) infrastructure toolkit to contact members of Congress with emails, phone calls and meetings. The NAM will continue to push for a comprehensive plan to revitalize the nation’s transportation, energy, water and broadband infrastructure. This week, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons furthered the NAM call that now is the time to build with a piece published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, titled “Time to act on Brent Spence Bridge and nation’s crumbling infrastructure.”
During the fifth-annual Infrastructure Week, the NAM, as a steering committee member, led efforts to unite varied voices behind a broad call for infrastructure investment. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gave the keynote address at the launch event on Monday, followed by a discussion between Timmons and Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan on how manufacturers depend on infrastructure. C-SPAN covered the event.
Ingersoll-Rand Chairman and CEO and NAM Executive Committee member Michael Lamach represented the NAM in an interview on CNBC. Manitowoc Company President and CEO Barry Pennypacker authored a Shopfloor blog on local infrastructure needs and represented the NAM in a roundtable discussion with congressional leaders, business executives and Department of Transportation special advisers. Also on the NAM Shopfloor blog, Fluor Corporation Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Vice Chair David Seaton explored the benefits of public–private partnerships, and NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg outlined manufacturers’ dependence on robust energy infrastructure. The NAM co-hosted an official Infrastructure Week Congressional Reception on Wednesday, May 17, featuring congressional co-chair Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).
The Ports of Indiana and American Association of Port Authorities hosted an infrastructure roundtable in Indianapolis that included participation from NAM members Subaru of Indiana, ArcelorMittal and the Indiana Manufacturers Association. The meeting also included federal officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Transportation as well as the Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner. The discussion was about advocating major infrastructure improvements, including the Soo Locks and specifically the Poe Lock in Upper Peninsula Michigan, which every Midwest steel manufacturer relies on. A Shopfloor blog can be found here.
The NAM’s efforts in combination with the efforts of thousands of other Infrastructure Week participants were extraordinary, but we must stay engaged. A comprehensive, pro-manufacturing infrastructure package faces political and philosophical challenges. Despite differences, we must stand united in support of overdue infrastructure revitalization to bolster economic competitiveness here in the United States.
Today, the American Society of Civil Engineers released the “Infrastructure Report Card.” Unfortunately, America’s infrastructure again receives a D+ rating. Marlin Steel Wire Products President and Owner and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Small and Medium Manufacturers Group Chair Drew Greenblatt described the impact our aging infrastructure system has on manufacturers. Greenblatt also authored an article, titled “Five Keys to Infrastructure Investment & Why It’s Critical for U.S. Manufacturing.” Read More
We all agree that America’s infrastructure must be updated and brought into the 21st century. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has been leading efforts to build consensus on how to fund, build and deliver infrastructure that will improve manufacturers’ global competitiveness. Today, the NAM—in partner with leading industry and labor groups—released four principles for Congress and the administration to use as they draft an infrastructure bill. The four principles are as follows: Read More
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 public–private 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.
Today, the House passed H.R. 636 to extend the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs until September 30, 2017. While manufacturers are eager for the long-term certainty that a full FAA authorization brings, the 15-month bipartisan extension negotiated between the House and Senate is a next-best option. Manufacturers appreciate the effort to avoid stop-gap extensions, which create instability and disadvantage our job creators when a bipartisan bill like this can’t get over the finish line.
To reach bipartisan consensus, the bill also includes some modest policy provisions on safety and security that were negotiated between House and Senate aviation leaders. Of note, the legislation includes additional guidance on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drone use, specifically for emergency response and critical infrastructure. The innovative applications of drones are endless and show great promise for manufacturers who are looking to UAS technology to inspect and secure facilities and other land-based assets. This guidance takes a practical approach to ensure safety remains the top priority while realizing the potential of this new technology.
With a 15-month reprieve, there is still important work to accomplish, and the NAM urges Congress to seek a long-term bipartisan FAA reauthorization ahead of the September 30, 2017, deadline. Reforms that would enhance the competitiveness of U.S. aerospace manufacturing through improvements to the FAA’s certification process for aircraft design and modifications are critical and should not be delayed. As aviation technology advances and manufacturing becomes more innovative, red tape and bureaucratic inefficiencies pose a risk to our globally competitive and enviable position in this sector. The FAA international certification process must not encumber, but strengthen American exports of aerospace products, which grew its annual trade surplus to a record $82.5 billion in 2015.
Today, Congress acted to keep critical FAA programs and the world’s largest aviation market open without further delay, and manufacturers urge the Senate to quickly get the FAA extension to the president’s desk. However, Congress must now recommit to working on a bipartisan, long-term bill that addresses critical reforms that support manufacturing competitiveness as well as bold funding solutions to tackle growing airport infrastructure demand, which create backlogs that cost American travelers and manufacturers billions of dollars annually.