Manufacturing Competitiveness Act passes House with bipartisan support
Bill will create board to analyze U.S. manufacturing and recommend policy and initiatives.
Passage of The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act by the U.S. House of Representatives last week sends the bill to the Senate for action before the end of 2012. The bill passed 339-77 as it received widespread bipartisan support.
The bill creates a bipartisan Manufacturing Competitiveness Board consisting of 15 members, five appointed by the president – including two governors from different parties – and 10 from the private sector appointed by the House and Senate, with the majority appointing three and the minority two in each chamber. The Board will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the U.S. and global manufacturing sectors, covering everything from trade issues to taxation, regulation, research, education, and new technologies.
Based on this analysis, it will develop a strategy that includes goals and specific recommendations for achieving these goals. The first strategy is due in 2014 and the second in 2018. This quadrennial strategic approach is modeled on the Defense Department’s policy planning effort, the Quadrennial Defense Review.
“At a time when the political environment is highly polarized and Congress is not doing much besides bickering, I am especially proud to have moved this bipartisan bill forward in order to commit our nation to boosting manufacturing and growing jobs for the middle class,” said U.S. Rep Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) who sponsored the bill with U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). “I am very pleased that the House has passed this bill with a very large, bipartisan majority. I thank Rep. Kinzinger for working across the aisle and helping move this bill forward as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.”
"We sit on the brink of a manufacturing renaissance,” said Rep. Kinzinger, lead Republican cosponsor of H.R. 5865. “We have the most productive workers in the world, the highest quality of products, and, now, an opportunity to support our manufacturing base for years to come by developing a long-term strategy. I am proud to have worked with Congressman Lipinski on this bipartisan legislation to increase our competitiveness and create high paying jobs that will rebuild the middle class.”
American manufacturers remain the world’s most productive, employing 11 million people and producing $1.7 trillion annually. With labor costs rising in China and cheap natural gas available here at home, many companies are considering locating factories in the United States. A coordinated manufacturing policy will help create the best possible environment for the private sector to take advantage of these opportunities and grow domestic manufacturing.
“Right now the United States is operating without a manufacturing strategy in a world where other countries are intensely focused on helping their manufacturers to compete,” said Zach Mottl, Director of Development for Atlas Tool & Die Works of Lyons. “The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act will bring all sides and stakeholders together to forge a strategy with broad support and the momentum needed to produce action.”
“Having grown up in a neighborhood surrounded by manufacturing plants, I understand how important this industry is for middle class families and for communities,” Rep. Lipinski said. “When we lose manufacturing due to outsourcing, we lose the ability to create the breakthrough technologies of tomorrow – as occurred when consumer electronics manufacturing migrated to Asia and became a source of revolutionary battery technologies,” said Lipinski, who noted that Boeing employs 165,000 workers to just 3,000 at Facebook. “Naysayers should consider the case of Germany, where manufacturing labor costs are 25% higher than in the U.S., yet manufacturing employment basically held steady there at a time that we lost 6.2 million jobs here.
“After a decade that saw Washington turn its back on manufacturing even as other countries sought to give their manufacturers every advantage, we need a national strategy that unleashes this vital sector of the American economy,” Lipinski added.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.