Capital Briefing: September 25, 2015

Capital Briefing

#Manufacturing Tweet of the Week

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


This Week in Washington

NAM Intensifies Push Before Final Ozone Release.
The NAM released a new round of television and print ads this week in opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed ozone regulation. As manufacturers await a final rule, likely to be released on October 1, the NAM is using the ads to underscore the new ozone standard’s widespread disapproval. One of two new television ads highlights the progress manufacturers have made in lowering ozone-forming emissions, leading the nation to a more than 30 percent reduction in ozone levels since 1980, and how President Obama recently acknowledged that we “solved” this problem. The second television ad highlights the broad, bipartisan and nationwide opposition to a new ozone standard.

Throughout this rulemaking process, manufacturers have been encouraged by the outreach from lawmakers at the local, state and national levels and both political parties to the Obama Administration asking for a more reasonable approach to its ozone regulations. To further highlight the concerns of manufacturers on this issue, the NAM sponsored an event on energy and climate with The Wall Street Journal featuring the newspaper’s Amy Harder, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and White House Senior Advisor Brian Deese. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons opened the event, and manufacturers were able to ask speakers questions on the proposed rule.

Manufacturers depend on balanced policies to remain competitive in a global economy, and to that end, we need lawmakers to step up and push back when regulations go too far. Regardless of the outcome with the final ozone rule, the NAM will continue working with elected officials and other leaders to achieve more commonsense regulatory policies.

Go to www.nam.org/ozone to watch the ads and for more information.

Details: Ross Eisenberg, (202) 637-3173 and Greg Bertelsen, (202) 637-3174.

Hot Topic

NAM Intensifies Push for Action on Customs, Enforcement and MTB Bill.
The NAM stepped up efforts this week to push for congressional completion and passage of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R. 644). Different versions of this legislation passed the House and Senate earlier this year, and action is long overdue for a conference and passage.

In a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees on Monday, NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey explained that Congress’ failure to act on this critical legislation is costing “manufacturers billions of dollars a year in operating costs and unfair competition.”

Among the top items the NAM is seeking through this legislation are new customs modernization provisions to eliminate red tape and unneeded border delays, new trade enforcement provisions to prevent the evasion of trade remedy orders and a new, regularized and transparent Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) process to eliminate temporarily duties on imported inputs and other products not available in the United States. The NAM is working toward passage of this legislation later this fall.

Details: Linda Dempsey, (202) 637-3144.

Trade Policy

NAM Advocates Manufacturing Priorities in U.S.–India Talks.
The NAM has continued its efforts to improve the U.S.–India commercial environment and ensure stronger access and better protections for our manufacturers in the Indian market. Among the key issues on which we are focused include India's harmful proclivity to develop domestic standards, such as on food safety and information communications technology testing, rather than adhering to international standards; the maintenance of an intellectual property regime that fails to provide robust protections or enforcement for patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets; its continued use of forced localization measures; and India's high tariff levels, including the increase in tariffs on certain information technology products.

As top government officials convened for the first-ever U.S.–India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) earlier this week, U.S. Administration and Hill officials had already been briefed by the NAM and the Alliance for Fair Trade with India (AFTI) on ongoing challenges in the Indian market and recognized the importance of pressing for progress on key issues. The leaders of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees sent a bipartisan letter just before the S&CD, urging progress on key access, standards and intellectual property issues of importance to manufacturers. The NAM also worked with its AFTI colleagues to call upon President Obama to advocate our priorities for the talks. When the Commerce Department convened the S&CD on September 22, it prioritized manufacturers' concerns about the uneven playing field they are facing and urged progress by the Indian government on the wide range of issues that are critical to growing a more reciprocal relationship. An op-ed the NAM penned with our AFTI co-chair, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center, stressed the importance of translating such high-level talks, including between President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, into tangible trade reforms.

The NAM will continue pressing for progress on small steps and large, including in preparation for the upcoming U.S.–India Trade Policy Forum likely to occur in October and through collaboration with the Obama Administration on the work plan developed as part of the S&CD.

Infrastructure, Legal and Regulatory Policy

House Set to Vote on NAM-Supported Bill to Speed up Infrastructure Permits.
Following the NAM’s Key Vote of H.R. 348, the Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act, the House was scheduled to vote on the bill today.

Bureaucratic delays and lengthy litigation halt important construction projects, restrict our ability to modernize our infrastructure and negatively impact growth opportunities. The RAPID Act would improve the permitting process by ensuring efficiency and preventing endless legal challenges by opponents of development. It would streamline the environmental review process for major construction projects that receive federal funds or require permits or approvals from federal agencies. It would also increase agency cooperation, create reasonable deadlines for comments and legal challenges and cut down on duplication by allowing for concurrent, rather than serial, environmental reviews. Many of the bill’s provisions have been applied successfully to transportation projects and received near-unanimous bipartisan support when enacted as law.

“Manufacturers in the United States rely on a robust infrastructure to efficiently transport materials and finished goods and to access crucial water and energy resources,” Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse said in the Key Vote letter. “Inefficiencies, overlapping agency authority, lengthy litigation, exhausting environmental review processes and general bureaucratic red tape are holding up the modernization of our critical infrastructure and negatively impacting growth opportunities.”

The NAM will continue to support the RAPID Act and press for a legislative agenda that aids manufacturers by speeding up the review and approval process for desperately needed infrastructure projects.

Details: Erik Glavich, (202) 637-3179.

Positive Train Control Extension Urgently Needed.
All railroads, freight and commuter, are mandated by statute to install new technology equipment known as Positive Train Control (PTC) by December 31. Freight railroads have invested billions in the testing, development, purchase and installation of PTC components. The PTC deployment is an unprecedented operational challenge that requires the entire rail network, public and private, to develop, test and implement this new equipment. The December 2015 deadline is impossible to meet, and the NAM strongly supports congressional action to extend the 2015 deadline as soon as possible.

As part of a coalition of influential trade associations, the NAM called on Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to intervene, highlighting that no Class I railroad has committed to continue carrying freight traffic after December 31. Impacts for rail shippers are expected to be felt far in advance of December 31, and an extension of the deadline will be too late if left until December. More information is available in the NAM's latest Shopfloor blog post on this issue. The NAM urges manufacturers to reach out to Congress and the Obama Administration and request support for a PTC deadline extension.

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

Manufacturers' Center for Legal Action

Courts Swamped with Water Challenges.
Since the EPA published its new regulation on June 29, defining the scope of its regulatory authority over navigable “waters of the United States,” lawsuits by dozens of business organizations, companies, environmental groups and states have been filed around the country, some in federal district courts and some in federal appellate courts. The suits are needed to determine whether the EPA exceeded its statutory authority under the Clean Water Act, which is a hotly contested issue that has been heard several times by the U.S. Supreme Court under previous EPA interpretations.

A fundamental question must be resolved first: Which court or courts should hear these cases? The NAM, along with 17 other business groups, filed an amicus brief in one appellate court on September 21, arguing that federal district courts are the proper forum. The EPA argues otherwise, saying the Clean Air Act specifies that certain regulatory challenges go straight to the appellate courts. The same issue is on a fast track in another federal appeals court, so there could be conflicting decisions that would require Supreme Court resolution.

This procedural issue could delay the resolution of the key question about the legality of the EPA’s rule. The NAM’s brief highlights statutory language and practical considerations that make the trial court the proper forum to hear all of these challenges. The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action is urging the courts to promptly resolve this procedural issue and overturn the EPA’s expansive interpretation of its jurisdiction.

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

Manufacturing in Action

An employee at the Siemens Charlotte Energy Hub inspects wedge insertions in a large generator stator. The Siemens facility also builds large gas turbines and steam turbines for power generation.

Photo by David Bohrer/National Association of Manufacturers

Get Involved

Don't Miss the September Issue of Member Focus.
The latest issue of Member Focus, the NAM's monthly digital magazine, features a cover story on how manufacturers can participate in Manufacturing Day; an interview with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) about how Congress can play a role in ensuring balanced regulations; a Q&A with PTC President and CEO Jim Heppelmann on PTC's role in helping manufacturing leaders harness smart, connected technology to achieve a competitive edge in their products and services; a spotlight on the Ohio Manufacturers' Association, a member of the NAM's State Associations Group; and more.

Details: Christine Grimaldi, (202) 637-3089.

Get Ready for the 2016 Elections.
There are more than 12 million manufacturing workers in this country, but an NAM survey conducted earlier in the year found that only 17 percent of them had heard from their employers about the importance of voting during the 2014 elections. We can—and MUST—do better to protect the future of manufacturing in America.

Last week, the NAM launched the 2016 Election Center website, the centerpiece of our political efforts for this important presidential election cycle. The Election Center includes resources to help employees register to vote, employers build and execute a voter education and engagement program and candidates understand where the manufacturing community comes down on major issues impacting our businesses. The launch of the Election Center coincided with the second Republican presidential debate to take advantage of the attention that the 2016 election is already receiving from the public.

The Election Center is just the first component of a campaign that will unfold over the next 14 months. That campaign will include the NAM Presidential Candidates Forum on Manufacturing in Iowa on November 2; a robust social media campaign around not only the general election on November 4 but also primary elections nationwide; a more coordinated effort with other business trade associations to get out the vote; the return of the NAM Voter Guides in fall 2016; and much more.

As a manufacturer, we need you to take the time to encourage your employees, family and friends to be manufacturing voters in 2016. Please visit the NAM Election Center today.

Details: Leann Paradise, (202) 637-3049.

Upcoming Events

What Are You Waiting For? Sign Up for Manufacturing Day Today!
Manufacturing Day is one week away. Don't miss your opportunity to take part in a global celebration of all things manufacturing!

Manufacturing Day events don't have to be complicated or difficult to produce. Simply invite your local officials out for a tour and discussion. That's a Manufacturing Day event. Offer a guided tour of your facility over the lunch hour. That, too, is a Manufacturing Day event.

The only wrong way to celebrate Manufacturing Day is by not participating. Signing up is quick and easy on the Manufacturing Day website. If your organization has committed to hosting an event, please register your event online.

For more information on Manufacturing Day, visit www.mfgday.com.

Details: Christopher Glen, (202) 637-3121.

The Week Ahead

Senate Hearings:
TUESDAY — The Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing on the “Economy-wide Implications of President Obama’s Air Agenda.” WEDNESDAY — The Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife holds a hearing on the Army Corps of Engineers’ role in the development of the new regulatory definition of “waters of the United States.”

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

House Hearings:
TUESDAY — The Small Business Subcommittees on Contracting and the Workforce and Investigations, Oversight and Regulations hold a hearing on the impact of blacklisting requirements on small businesses.

WEDNESDAY — The Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on state authority in the development of natural resources.

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

Economic Reports:
The manufacturing sector is growing in the United States, but that expansion has been far from robust over much of this year. However, manufacturers are cautiously upbeat about the coming months, and we will be looking for signs of a possible rebound in data out next week. This includes the Institute for Supply Management's Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, which is due out on Thursday. The Dallas Federal Reserve Bank will also release its latest survey, which is expected to show continuing challenges in its region, and the Census Bureau will publish factory orders and shipments. Beyond these indicators, jobs will be the focus, with new employment numbers due on Friday. We will be looking for better hiring data from manufacturers in September, with the sector bouncing back from declining employment in August. Other economic numbers to watch include the most recent data on construction spending, consumer confidence and personal income and spending.

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

Questions or Comments?

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