When the history of COVID-19 is written, it will probably confirm that this was the greatest mobilization of manufacturing power since World War II. From food to ventilators to the vaccines themselves, manufacturers are making the products that keep Americans safe, comfortable and hopeful. And they’ve done it all while contending with an economic crash, a raft of new regulations and new safety procedures that had to be implemented at top speed.
These extraordinary demands on manufacturers call for an unprecedented degree of policy support, and the NAM is making sure they get it. As of September, the NAM has achieved 60 policy wins for manufacturers. We recently talked to NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse about the NAM’s work over the past six months. Here is a condensed interview.
The plan: The NAM’s three watchwords throughout the pandemic have been “response, recovery and renewal”—in that order, says Newhouse.
- “The response phase focused on immediate health care needs like PPE; the recovery phase centered around businesses’ reopening needs and support for employees; and our long-term renewal efforts worked to strengthen the overall sector and economy.”
- The first few months were occupied with response and recovery, but by late summer, policymakers started thinking about long-term renewal, Newhouse explains.
- The NAM worked out a broad program of reform, which included onshoring and reshoring policies. “That’s actually a conversation we’ve been driving for a long time, because the U.S. should be the best place in the world to manufacture.”
What’s next? Manufacturing continues to struggle in this recovery phase, so policymakers need to do even more. As Newhouse put it, “A bipartisan stimulus package is important, and we hope Congress can come together with the administration to put additional liquidity into the economy, provide a safety net for employees, support the health care sector and create liability protections for businesses.”
How the NAM succeeded: Relationships were absolutely key, Newhouse says. “In this environment, with so much incoming and so little time, policymakers turned to people they trusted—and that included the NAM. This was a real test of the association’s strategy and credibility, and our hard work over the past few years paid off.”
He continued, “At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, [NAM President and CEO] Jay [Timmons] called for an all-hands approach. He challenged the NAM to rethink who we are and refocus to ensure we were being as effective as possible to meet the crisis. That’s exactly what we’ve done.”