Will the 116th Congress capitalize on bipartisan manufacturing opportunities?
President Donald Trump, the professed master of “the art of the deal,” certainly has some bargaining ahead of him when the newly-elected Congress convenes in January. However, with broad bipartisan support from voters, manufacturing promises to be the perfect opportunity for a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and Republican-controlled Senate to find common ground and help the American worker.
We’ve outlined three major questions for the 116th Congress to consider as it tackles manufacturing issues.
1. What’s next for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)?
The greatest question when it comes to passage of the USMCA is whether the U.S. will replace tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel with quotas – though Canadian President Justin Trudeau has affirmed that Canada’s agreement to the deal is not dependent on this. When the deal comes to Congress, labor standards implementation questions could delay passage.
2. Will infrastructure get its due attention and action?
Infrastructure may finally — FINALLY! — come to the forefront of Congressional objectives.
Trump has long promised an infrastructure plan, but efforts to solidify these promises and bring them to fruition have left much to be desired. With House Democrats putting infrastructure investment at the top of their to-do lists, hope is mounting that the combined effort of the White House and Congress can build momentum into action.
Though Democrats’ plans for funding are likely to differ from what Trump envisions, long overdue infrastructure investment would be a win for the president, Congress, and, most importantly, the economy and workers. (Every $1 billion in transportation infrastructure investment would create over 21,000 jobs, according to a 2014 report.)
3. Will job training win new investment?
Around the country, as low unemployment rates shrink the job applicant pool, job training has become an ever-more critical issue for manufacturers.
The White House released a plan to advance American leadership in advanced manufacturing in October, outlining increased national investment in apprenticeship programs. Could Congress open the way for more funding?
Newly-elected Democrats in the House, like Haley Stevens of Michigan, who has a history in manufacturing workforce development, could lead the way.
Workers are depending on Congress and the president to collaborate and support American manufacturing. As polling shows, Americans want manufacturing to be a national priority. It's up to Congress and the president to make it happen.