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NAM Releases Priorities for Manufacturing Competitiveness Legislation

May 19, 2022
Congressional leaders are set to attempt to reconcile two different bills, the USCIA and COMPETES Acts, into one bipartisan bill.

Despite being a bipartisan priority, legislation designed to boost the competitiveness of American manufacturing abroad has been a long time coming.

At present time, delegations from both houses of Congress are soon to attempt to combine a pair of similar bills passed by both houses: The Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act, or USCIA; and the America COMPETES Act, passed by the House of Representatives. On May 19, the National Association of Manufacturers sent an open letter to leaders of both houses, outlining ten recommended priorities it says the combined legislation should have.

“We urge the completion of a strong, bipartisan agreement that strengthens domestic manufacturing, increases our global competitiveness and provides opportunities for the more than 12.7 million people who make things in America,” wrote NAM Senior VP Aric Newhouse.

The list of priorities includes several items found in both the USCIA and COMPETES bills, including a solid $52 billion in federal funding to support domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Both bills also contain reforms to overseas shipping regulations, funding for basic science research and supply chain analysis and expansions for the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships Program.

The NAM list of priorities largely singled out the House-produced COMPETES Act for praise, as well as criticism, for items not included in the Senate-passed USCIA.

NAM-approved provisions in the COMPETES Act include the foundation of a Manufacturing Security and Resilience Program, with $45 billion investment in supply chain resilience via grants and loans; two bills intended to reduce counterfeiting; a provision to expand the Clean Industrial Technology Act; federal investment in National Science Foundation to study critical minerals; and the JOBS Act meant to boost workforce development.

At the same time, though, NAM also called out the COMPETES Act for provisions it would oppose in a final bill. Specifically, while NAM says its supporters are in favor of certain reinstated tariffs, they would prefer to do so without the restrictions included in the COMPETES Act. COMPETES also has provisions tied to critical minerals that NAM says will make it more difficult for manufacturers to reuse or recycle them.

NAM’s most forceful COMPETES rejection was related to the bill’s included provisions for labor “card check” systems, which would enable workers to form a union if a majority of workers sign union cards.

As Newhouse wrote, the provisions would “upend decades of labor precedent with an anti-competitive, anti-democratic process that abolishes the secret ballot and eliminates appropriate oversight.” Newhouse also warned that including the labor provisions could derail eventual passage of the combined bill. 

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