Capital Briefing: October 30, 2015

Capital Briefing

#Manufacturing Tweet of the Week

Details: Martha Sprague, (202) 637-3083.


This Week in Washington

Unrelenting NAM Ex-Im Campaign Secures House Passage.
The NAM’s unrelenting advocacy on the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank played an instrumental role in the House’s overwhelming 313–118 vote to pass a long-term reauthorization. Our consensus-building efforts resulted in a majority of Republicans and nearly all Democrats supporting the bill, and we thanked these lawmakers in an ad that ran in Politico. Earlier in the week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers employed the rarely used discharge petition procedure to bring the bill to the floor and force a vote.

In the days before the successful vote, the NAM led a coordinated coalition lobbying effort that included meetings with more than 60 House offices of members of Congress who were on the fence about the Ex-Im Bank. The NAM also sent a Key Vote letter urging support for the reauthorization. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN), lead sponsors of the reauthorization legislation in the Senate and House, subsequently penned a letter to the editor that ran in The Wall Street Journal.

Lawmakers’ overwhelming support leaves no question about where the Ex-Im reauthorization stands. “Broad, bipartisan majorities in both chambers have now clearly spoken in support of Ex-Im reauthorization,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Our members demand leadership from Congress to ensure this reauthorization gets through the entire legislative process and to President Obama’s desk for his signature without further delays.”

Because the Senate passed its version of an Ex-Im Bank reauthorization bill as part of a long-term highway bill extension, manufacturers will continue to call on Congress to ensure the reauthorization reaches President Obama’s desk in the coming weeks. For more information about the importance of the Ex-Im Bank to U.S. manufacturing growth and jobs, visit the NAM’s Ex-Im webpage.

“This white paper shows the tangible impacts manufacturers are facing every day due to the Ex-Im Bank’s lapse,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said upon the release of the white paper. “Our country’s export numbers continue to lag behind our foreign competitors. Meanwhile, dozens of foreign export credit agencies continue to close deals worth billions of dollars.”

The expiration of the Ex-Im Bank’s charter on June 30 has left several thousand manufacturers, many of them small and medium-sized exporters, without adequate access to capital and the financing they need to compete with foreign manufacturers. Orbital ATK lost a satellite deal because it could not offer Ex-Im financing to its customer overseas, for example, and International Green Structures has a deal in a holding pattern until the Ex-Im Bank’s charter is renewed.

There are 83 official export credit agencies across the globe, many of which continue to close on deals worth tens of billions of dollars, according to the white paper. The Ex-Im Bank’s lapse has created a credit and liquidity crunch for small and medium-sized businesses. The NAM white paper estimates that more than 500 U.S. exporters will lose their credit insurance policies between September 1 and December 1 this year, meaning that they will be unable to insure their foreign receivables and acquire financing for new exporters. In addition, users of Ex-Im’s multi-buyer credit insurance cannot add new foreign customers to their policies, thereby reducing their opportunities to expand in overseas markets.

Next week, the House of Representatives will likely vote on a long-term reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. The NAM sent a Key Vote letter yesterday urging support for the reauthorization. Congressional supporters of Ex-Im's reauthorization recently circulated a discharge petition and gathered the required 218 signatures to give this critical legislation a vote on the House floor. Urge members of Congress to vote in favor of Ex-Im Bank reauthorization next week by taking action through the NAM’s advocacy portal.

For more information about the importance of the Ex-Im Bank to U.S. manufacturing growth and jobs, visit the NAM’s Ex-Im webpage.

Details: Linda Dempsey, (202) 637-3144, and Lauren Airey Wilk, (202) 637-3141.

Hot Topic

Congress Sends Two-Year Budget Deal to the White House.
The House and Senate this week approved the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (H.R. 1314), a two-year package that will raise current caps on defense spending by more than $40 billion over the next two years and extend the federal government’s borrowing authority until March 2017. The legislation, which was negotiated by bipartisan congressional leaders, including outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), will set government funding levels through the end of fiscal 2017, providing much-needed stability and certainty to the budget process.

In identical letters to the House and Senate, NAM Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Dorothy Coleman expressed our support for congressional action on the legislation and cited NAM concerns about proposed increases to pension premiums and new rules for auditing partnerships, changes that would increase costs for manufacturers.

Details: Dorothy Coleman, (202) 637-3077.

Human Resources Policy

NAM Fights “Joint Employer” Standard.
Since August, the NAM has been at the forefront of efforts to push back against the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision in Browning-Ferris Industries, which rolled back 30 years of precedent. The NLRB decision means that many relationships that manufacturers have had with contractors, subcontractors and others may trigger joint-employer status. That status means companies could now be liable for all aspects of workers’ employment at their contractors, subcontractors and similarly situated firms, involving them in such issues as labor disputes and negotiations.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced identical legislation, the Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act (H.R. 3459, S. 2015), to re-establish the old standard. Earlier this week, the NAM called on both the House and Senate to take action. Chairman Kline’s House committee subsequently took the first step in pushing this legislation forward by favorably reporting the bill out of the committee along party lines, with a vote of 21–15.

The application of the standard is potentially limitless. In adopting this new ambiguous standard, the NLRB is challenging the very way manufacturers are able to work in the United States, making employers responsible for workers they only have indirect control over. The NAM will be sending out an action alert for manufacturers to contact their members of Congress urging support for both the House and Senate bills.

Details: Joe Trauger, (202) 637-3127, and Amanda Wood, (202) 637-3128.

Infrastructure, Legal and Regulatory Policy

Short-Term Highway Funding Passes, Includes NAM-Backed PTC Extension.
Following the NAM’s Key Vote designation, the House and Senate cleared H.R. 3819, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2015. The short extension keeps federal highway and transit programs funded until November 20 as the House prepares to move its Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 in the coming days.

The extension also includes a critical NAM priority: an extension of the December 31, 2015, deadline to install Positive Train Control (PTC) technology. The three-year PTC extension was needed to prevent an eventual interruption of freight rail service in the coming weeks. The NAM appreciates the swift action of the House and Senate, which helped manufacturers avoid a catastrophic transportation scenario that would have forced contingency plans into action and cost the economy jobs.

Manufacturers are looking ahead as House leaders prepare to advance a multiyear transportation measure next week on the floor of the House. For more information on the NAM’s efforts, visit our infrastructure webpage.

Details: Robyn Boerstling, (202) 637-3178.

Tax, Technology and Domestic Economic Policy

Senate Passes NAM-Backed Cyber Bill.
In a major win for manufacturers, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). Prior to the vote, the NAM sent a Key Vote letter to all senators urging their support of the legislation. The NAM has been working on this legislation for several years. Our members have called for the ability to receive more real-time, cyber-threat information from the federal government—something that cannot happen under current law—and this legislation would provide that for manufacturers. The House has passed similar legislation, and the NAM will work to ensure the final version sent to President Obama enables manufacturers to share threat information while keeping sensitive information secure and private.

Learn more about the intersection of technology and manufacturing on the NAM D.A.T.A. Center webpage.

Details: Brian Raymond, (202) 637-3072.

Manufacturers' Center for Legal Action

NAM Suit Questions EPA's Regulatory Authority.
The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action and 15 other business associations are asking a federal appeals court to review the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan and block its implementation while the lawsuit is pending. Nearly three months after the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed the Clean Power Plan regulation for greenhouse gas emissions from electric utilities, it was formally published in the Federal Register, prompting a majority of states and a wide range of business associations to challenge it in court. By dictating energy sources, the Clean Power Plan has the potential to upend how all manufacturers do business.

“This regulation unlawfully exceeds the EPA’s authority, proposing a seismic change to the power industry and our national economy,” said NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly. “The NAM filed hundreds of pages of comments with the EPA seeking to improve the proposed rule; these comments were largely ignored, leaving manufacturers no choice but to seek judicial intervention.”

The rule elevates the EPA from a regulator of the environment to a regulator of the generation, distribution and use of electricity around the country. While the rule nominally regulates just electric power plants, in reality it goes much farther, impacting nearly every energy consumer in the country. Manufacturers who stand next in line for similar regulations under the same section of the Clean Air Act remain extremely concerned about the precedent this rule could set.

While the legal challenge could take several years to unfold, manufacturers will continue leading the way in promoting environmental sustainability. “Manufacturers have been and remain committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, manufacturers have made great strides, lowering emissions by more than 10 percent since 2005,” Kelly said. “Unfortunately, this regulation disregards basic economic realities and clear limits established by Congress to the EPA’s authority.”

More information on the case is available through the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action portal.

Details: Quentin Riegel, (202) 637-3058.

Manufacturing in Action

The NAM’s Executive Insights Series, regional events that bring together top NAM and manufacturing leaders, provides a forum to talk about key issues. In Houston, the conversation focused on America’s energy renaissance—and the ongoing crush of new federal regulations, including the ozone standard, that endanger it. From l-r: Eagle Energy Exploration, LLC Chairman and CEO Steve Antry; Ecolab Inc. Executive Vice President and President, Global Energy Steve Taylor; Devon Energy Corporation Executive Chairman J. Larry Nichols; BP America, Inc. Chairman and President John Mingé; and NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

Photo by David Bohrer/National Association of Manufacturers

NAM in the News

Top Honors Go to Timmons, Newhouse.
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse ranked among the “select few” influencers on The Hill’s Top Lobbyists 2015 list. “Those named to this year’s list have climbed to the top of their profession, demonstrating an ability to influence Washington’s power brokers on behalf of the interest groups, corporations and industries they represent,” The Hill said in its recognition of Timmons and Newhouse. The Hill pointed to Timmons’ and Newhouse’s advocacy prowess on the Obama Administration’s new ozone standard, the “most expensive regulation in history,” and underscored how “they have also helped to lead the charge to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and expand trade opportunities for manufacturers overseas.”

Details: Mallory Micetich, (202) 637-3085.

The Week Ahead

Senate Hearings:
No relevant hearings.

Details: Rick Limardo,(202) 637-3198.

House Hearings:
TUESDAY – The Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Environment and Subcommittee on Oversight hold a joint hearing on the renewable fuel standard. The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology holds a hearing on “Examining the EU Safe Harbor Decision and Impacts for Transatlantic Data Flows.” The Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet holds a hearing on promoting digital trade in the 21st century.

Details: Laura Ringdahl Siegrist, (202) 637-3038.

Economic Indicators:
After sluggish numbers in previous months, we will be looking for signs of a rebound in manufacturing activity and hiring in next week’s reports. On Monday, the Institute for Supply Management will release the Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index data for October, with some hope that the sector has improved upon being essentially stagnant in September’s headline data. Likewise, manufacturers have hired essentially no net new workers over the past eight months, making the October jobs report due out on Friday more important. Nonfarm payroll growth was also soft in September. Beyond those two statistics, other reports to watch next week include the latest figures on construction spending, factory orders and shipments, international trade, productivity and vehicle sales.

Details: Chad Moutray, (202) 637-3148.

Questions or Comments?

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