Congress’s new funding package, which covers COVID-19 relief and much more, will provide Americans with much-needed security during this holiday season. Manufacturers are among the major beneficiaries, as Congress recognized that the sector is essential to keeping our country healthy, fed and functional throughout the pandemic.
The NAM’s policy team reports that legislators closely followed the NAM’s recommendations in a wide variety of policy areas. Here are a few highlights.
The Paycheck Protection Program: This program was reauthorized with $284 billion in new funding and extended through March 31, 2021. It also lets businesses choose when to spend the loans, expands the list of acceptable uses for the loans and simplifies loan forgiveness.
Taxes: The last round of stimulus, called the CARES Act, included a payroll tax credit for “eligible employees” affected by the virus. This new package extends that credit through June 30, 2021, while also upping the percentage from 50% to 70%. Meanwhile, it increases the amount of workers’ pay that qualifies for this tax credit from $10,000 for the year to $10,000 per quarter.
And that’s not it for taxes. This package also extends or makes permanent many other provisions. For example, it extends the deadline by which workers must pay back deferred payroll taxes, while also extending the temporary, refundable tax credit for small and medium-sized employers that are providing required paid leave.
Labor: As you’ve probably read by now, the package gives workers on unemployment $300 per week on top of their state benefits. These payments will last until March 14, 2021.
Vaccines/COVID-19 care: And now for the measures that will help end this pandemic for good. The package includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, making them free for all who need them; $8 billion for vaccine distribution; $20 billion to assist states with testing; and a $20 billion distribution from the existing provider relief fund.
And we’re still not finished . . .
Long-term fixes: Congress also included manufacturing priorities that predate the pandemic and remain absolutely crucial.
- Energy: This is the big one—the first comprehensive modernization of U.S. energy policy in well over a decade, and an upgrade that the NAM has long fought for. We can’t cover all of its many provisions here, but they include everything from energy storage to nuclear development to carbon capture to renewable energy. It’s a major victory for manufacturers and the NAM.
- Environment: The legislation also includes a provision for phasing down hydrofluorocarbons—greenhouse gases used in refrigeration. Relatedly, it creates new R&D programs for technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector. Both are high priorities for manufacturers’ sustainability efforts.
- Anti-counterfeiting measures: These measures are designed to protect manufacturers’ intellectual property, and they include the empowerment of the Federal Trade Commission to take action against bad actors exploiting the pandemic.
- Transportation: As part of this package, Congress passed the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act, which provides a two-year authorization for ports, inland waterways and important water infrastructure investments.
- Broadband: And lastly, the package funds the improvement of digital infrastructure and broadband access, including for underserved and rural populations. It also includes a support program for those experiencing hardship due to COVID-19.
What’s missing? Since you ask, the package does not include the liability protections that the NAM advocated. But the NAM will continue working on this priority next year.
The last word: NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said of the legislation, “Some are stirring up controversy over aspects of the spending text to drum up ratings or score political points. But the bottom line is manufacturers—and all Americans—need relief now. This package gives manufacturers and many other Americans a lifeline in the face of the disaster this pandemic continues to wreak on lives and livelihoods. There is unfinished work for sure. But it makes no sense to hold up an action that can bring real relief to this country.”
You can read a more expansive list of policy wins here.
Manufacturing businesses have long been proponents of equality in the workplace. As legislation to codify protections for LGBT individuals passes through the House of Representatives, the National Association of Manufacturers joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other members of the business community in advocating its passage, forging coalitions and providing congressional testimony.
Introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate in March, the Equality Act includes federal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the existing framework of the Civil Rights Act, which already provides protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin, race, color or sex. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that no person can face legal discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, setting a clear federal standard to enable individuals to succeed based on their abilities and qualifications to perform a job.
“Employers understand the importance of creating an environment in which the very best people can succeed based on merit,” Patrick Hedren, NAM vice president, labor, legal and regulatory policy, said. “At the same time, manufacturers know that discrimination in any form is antithetical to the values that we work to uphold every day: equality of opportunity, individual liberty, free enterprise and competitiveness.”
In March, more than 40 other industry associations rallied to support the Equality Act, providing an important boost for the groundbreaking legislation. In the weeks since, manufacturing representatives have testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and signed a coalition letter to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services calling for the Act’s passage. As Congress considers the way forward, manufacturers have made clear that they intend to advocate forcefully on behalf of the legislation and uphold their commitment to workers of every gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Equality Act creates a clear federal standard that matches the sentiments manufacturers already share: gender identity and sexual orientation have no impact on an employee’s abilities and discrimination is not welcome on the manufacturing floor,” Hedren said. “We look forward to working with Congress as this important legislation moves ahead.”
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded the 2016 Persuader Rule:
Manufacturers have fought for this victory for many years in the courts, in Congress and with two administrations, using the full weight of our policy, government relations and legal teams, said Timmons. The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action was able to halt the rule in court in 2016.And in 2017, the Trump administration, as part of its broader regulatory relief agenda, thankfully began the process of unwinding the rule. This overreaching rule threatened to impose serious burdens on manufacturers and upend employee–employer communications. Now manufacturers are relieved that this threat to workplace communications is finally and officially off the books. Commonsense steps like this to rein in onerous regulations are a major reason why manufacturers are reporting record-high business optimism.
The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) is the leading voice of manufacturers in the courts and engages in a range of activities, including direct party litigation and operating a robust amicus program, as well as educating manufacturers about emerging legal trends. The MCLA is led by NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly and NAM Vice President of Litigation and Deputy General Counsel Peter Tolsdorf. More information on the MCLA can be found here.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.