While Congress is struggling to find a path forward on pressing fiscal matters, a few of our House and Senate champions are hard at work, introducing several key bills in recent days to spur job creation, strengthen American manufacturing and expand the clean energy economy.
When first introduced, the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act had wide bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, and was endorsed by numerous automobile manufacturers and environmental groups. It is now being reintroduced by Michigan Congressman Gary Peters and Senator Debbie Stabenow in a bicameral effort to direct nearly $3 billion to the Department of Energy for research and development of advanced vehicle technology, to include U.S. made-battery and electric drive components that will significantly improve efficiency in our nation’s vehicle fleet. The bill also seeks to advance state and local initiatives in developing and promoting advanced vehicle technologies, manufacturing, and infrastructure. The bill would enable progress across the U.S. auto industry, covering light-duty passenger vehicles to heavy-duty trucks and buses.
By incentivizing the development of homegrown advanced vehicle technology, the bill would help meet strong fuel efficiency standards and diversify and expand the alternative fuel market. Continued technology development would also lead to more affordable fuel and reduced dependence on foreign oil. The bill also creates job opportunities in American manufacturing and infrastructure expansion, especially among highly skilled positions, and seeks to bridge high quality job applicants with manufacturing employment needs through groundbreaking workforce development initiatives. The bill’s release is complemented with another bill in the Senate that focuses on job creation and on growing the American industry sector.
A bill that specifically targets American manufacturing was released late last week by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY). Senator Gillibrand’s Made in America Manufacturing Act establishes a program for a joint award of incentives that grants to a state or a regional partnership support for the U.S. manufacturing industry. Recently, a lack of capital funding has inhibited the growth and cultivation of the manufacturing industry; a key point that should to change. This competitive award will provide low-interest loans to build facilities, upgrade equipment, and increase access to capital and technical assistance. Funds will also be directed toward workforce development and vocational programs to prepare the workforce for quality jobs in manufacturing. The workforce training is critical, because according to a 2011 survey by the Manufacturing Institute, over 600,000 manufacturing jobs went unfilled due to the short supply of skilled workers.
The Invest in American Jobs Act introduced by Ranking Member Nick Rahall (WV) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee closes loopholes on Buy American requirements within the scope of public transportation and infrastructure, specifically for highways, bridge, passenger rail services, aviation programs. It also expands Buy American requirements to other infrastructure investments such as water and aviation, including infrastructure grants, loans, loan guarantees, and state revolving funds. By ensuring all of the steel, iron, and manufactured goods used in these projects is produced in the U.S., Buy America requirements assure that U.S. taxpayer dollars contribute to quality, good paying jobs here in the U.S. instead of overseas.
All three of these bills address critical issues in the current state of the manufacturing industry, and seek to strengthen and expand it for a more competitive and healthy U.S. economy.