A few things on AAM's 2014 legislative radar ...

Posted by mmcmullan on 01/03/2014

The past year was an eventful one for America’s manufacturing economy. But now that 2013 is officially in the books, what can we look forward to in 2014? Here are some of the issues and policies percolating on Capitol Hill that the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) will be watching for in the coming year.

A big ol’ water bill:

Congress took steps to updating the rules governing public water resources in 2013. Both the House and Senate passed versions of the bill. Now, those bills need to be reconciled before they can move forward. But when they do, we hope an amendment proposed by Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Ohio’s Sherrod Brown stays attached.

Why? The Merkley-Brown amendment would ensure that competitively priced, American-made materials get top priority when procuring goods to complete public water projects. This is commonly called Buy America legislation, but we also call it smart public policy: They make sure that tax dollars support businesses (and jobs) in America.

Trade agreements

The Obama administration is really putting the heat on to get the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal signed. And coming down the pike right behind the TPP is another acronym, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal with the European Union. But will either of these agreements include measures to protect American manufacturers and their workers? If they don’t, they’re missing the point, wrote AAM President Scott Paul in an August opinion:

Our goal should be to cut the U.S. goods trade deficit in half by 2017. This can be accomplished by tackling Japanese and Chinese currency manipulation and by ensuring our workers and businesses aren’t forced to compete with state-supported industries abroad.

And speaking of currency manipulation …

Congress is often divided, but it’s remarkably bipartisan in its support for putting a rule barring currency manipulation into the TPP deal. But that would only address currency manipulation by TPP parties. Luckily, there are separate House and Senate bills that would add currency manipulation to the list of offenses against which American industries could seek redress through existing mechanisms governing international trade. Will these bills pick up more congressional cosponsors? We’ll be watching in 2014.

The Senate’s manufacturing plan

Back at the end of October, while Washington was mired in a government shutdown imbroglio, Senate Democrats released a remarkable thing: a raft of legislative proposals to help America’s manufacturing sector. It was (drumroll, please) a manufacturing agenda.

The effort was spearheaded by Delaware’s Chris Coons, and included ideas from 21 of his Senate colleagues. Keep an eye out for progress on these bills – that cover everything from incentives to manufacture in America for businesses, to trade enforcement, to skills training for workers – in the next year.

Okay, so there's your preview. But that's only a snippet of the policymaking we'll be watching out for year in 2014. Stay tuned for updates on the 2014 highway transportation bill and the White House's efforts to implement its Advanced Manufacturing Partnership policy recommendations.

Photo by flickr user jdnx used following Creative Commons guidelines.

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