Transportation and Infrastructure

Manufacturers need a modern infrastructure system to compete in a global economy. Strong and reliable infrastructure—from roads and rails to pipelines and broadband—helps manufacturers move materials and products efficiently, and gives our hardworking employees the tools to succeed.

Policy and Legal

Texas Rail Ports Closures Hit Economy

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has closed two critical rail ports in Texas in an effort to stem a surge of migration, according to CNBC.

What’s going on: Immigration authorities “announced rail operations would be halted at El Paso and Eagle Pass, Texas, beginning Monday in light of the surge of migrants crossing the border.”

  • Officials said this temporary suspension of operations will enable the government to redirect personnel to assist Border Patrol with taking migrants into custody.
  • “Collectively both railroads operate 24 trains daily at these crossings.”

Why it’s important: More than $200 million in goods, wages and transportation are lost each day the El Paso and Eagle Pass rail lines remain shuttered, according to Union Pacific.

  • The closures are affecting international commerce, with mounting impacts on the agricultural, food, automotive, consumer goods and industrial commodity sectors, among others.
  • A total of nearly 10,000 rail cars are being held on both sides of the U.S.–Mexico border, according to Union Pacific.
  • “According to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data, El Paso and Eagle Pass accounted for $33.95 billion, or 35.8%, of all cross-border rail traffic from November 2022 – October 2023,” CNBC reports.

The backdrop: The developments come the same week Texas Gov. Greg Abbott “signed into law a measure giving state and local police authority to arrest and deport migrants caught crossing the border illegally,” according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What we’re doing: The NAM is in communication with the White House, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and key Senate and House members on the issue, advocating for an immediate solution to the reopening of the rail ports.

  • “Mexico is the United States’ largest trading partner, and enabling trade between the two countries is critical for North American economic competitiveness,” said NAM Director of Trade Facilitation Policy Ali Aafedt. “The NAM will continue to advocate for solutions that uphold our laws while also facilitating legitimate trade.”
Policy and Legal

NAM Goes All Out for Tax Priorities

The NAM is firing on all cylinders to accomplish manufacturers’ top tax priorities: restoring immediate R&D expensing, pro-growth interest deductibility and full expensing.

Time is running out, as Congress must act by early 2024 to allow manufacturers to benefit from these provisions for the 2022 and 2023 tax years. Here’s what the NAM is doing to reach the finish line and why it matters so much to the industry and to the economy as a whole.

What we’re doing: The Executive Committee of the NAM Board of Directors recently sat down with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to emphasize the importance and urgency of these measures. The Executive Committee has also raised the issue directly with the White House, and the NAM’s members—90% of which are small and medium-sized firms—have been contacting legislators to urge immediate action since early this year.

  • In addition, while pressing the case relentlessly with the White House and congressional leaders himself, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons has met personally with House and Senate tax negotiators to make manufacturers’ case for these reforms.
  • NAM experts have also hosted multiple briefings for key legislators and congressional staffers, featuring manufacturers who explained how the withdrawal of these policies has harmed their businesses.
  • Ratcheting up the ante on air and online, the NAM has applied pressure publicly in key districts, running a new ad campaign urging congressional action that has garnered about 80 million impressions so far. It also launched an action center to help manufacturers contact their legislators and spotlight the numerous companies that will be hard hit if pro-growth policies are not reinstated.

Why it matters: All three of these tax provisions are crucial to manufacturers’ ability to innovate, invest in their employees and make the American economy more competitive.

  • R&D: The U.S. is one of only two countries (the other being Belgium) that doesn’t permit immediate expensing of R&D costs, a vital incentive for innovation. China, on the other hand, gives companies a “super deduction” for R&D expenses.
  • Interest deductibility: A recent tax policy change made it more expensive for manufacturers to make critical purchases for their facilities, by imposing a stricter standard for deducting interest. This is a particularly heavy burden for a capital-intensive industry like manufacturing, amounting to a tax on companies’ investments in their operations and workers.
  • Full expensing: This provision allows companies to expense their equipment purchases in the year they are made, supporting manufacturers’ investments in their businesses. But the policy is set to be phased out soon and must be saved, as it is crucial for small and medium-sized manufacturers looking to expand their operations. 

The last word: “Manufacturing is the backbone of America, and the NAM is going all-out to make sure Congress acts on these critical priorities,” said NAM Managing Vice President of Policy Chris Netram. “Right now, leaders on Capitol Hill need to hear from manufacturers in their communities with a simple, clear message—act on our critical tax priorities now.” 

Take action: Congressional leaders, including Speaker Johnson, have recently pointed out a need to hear from more manufacturers. Lend your voice—check out the resources in the action center to learn more.

Policy and Legal

NAM, Partners: Pass MTB Now

For nearly three years, many manufacturers in the U.S. have been operating at a disadvantage to their foreign competitors due to the lack of a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill. And that needs to change, the NAM told Congress yesterday.

What’s going on: The NAM, along with more than 200 manufacturers and industry partners, urged key members of the House and Senate to pass the MTB as soon as possible this year.

  • The measure—which expired at the end of 2020—temporarily eliminates or reduces tariffs on products not readily available in the U.S. and is typically renewed by Congress every few years on a bipartisan basis.
  • The previous MTB was passed unanimously in 2018, and in June 2021, the Senate approved an amendment including it and other trade provisions by a strong bipartisan vote of 91–4.

Why it’s important: Since the last MTB’s expiration, manufacturers and other businesses have paid more than $1.4 billion in anticompetitive tariffs to get items they are unable to source in the U.S., according to an NAM analysis.

  • In addition to incentivizing overseas manufacturing and costing jobs, the additional expenses are harming local economies and American taxpayers by increasing the prices on manufactured goods.

What should be done: “Congress can reverse course by passing the MTB through 2026 with meaningful retroactivity and reauthorizing future MTB cycles without broad and arbitrary restrictions that would be difficult to implement,” the NAM and partner groups said.

  • “Congressional passage of the MTB will spur growth: according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, tariff relief under the previous MTB boosted U.S. GDP annually by as much as $3.3 billion and output annually by as much as $6.3 billion.”

The last word: “If Congress is serious about supporting manufacturers and workers in the United States, they must prioritize the passage of the MTB by the end of this year,” said NAM Director of Trade Facilitation Policy Ali Aafedt.

Policy and Legal

NAM Fights Auto Regulation Mess

Manufacturers spend years developing and delivering top-of-the-line vehicles for consumers. But as policymakers set new fuel standards and regulations for light vehicles, automakers are finding themselves caught in a tangled mess of policy-making that threatens manufacturers and consumers alike.

Too many regulators: A number of agencies and government bodies, along with the state of California, are each imposing their own fuel-efficiency standards and environmental regulations, forcing automakers to cope with the conflicts and contradictions.

  • “Right now, we’re looking at multiple sets of standards,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris. “That includes the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as separate standards from California. Each has standards for vehicle emissions, and they’re not well-aligned.”

Brief timelines: In addition, all of these regulations come with their own timelines for compliance, which often don’t give manufacturers enough time to innovate, test and produce new vehicles.

  • “The timelines are short,” said Farris. “One of the things we’re asking agencies to recognize is the manufacturing lead time that’s needed.”

Product mandates: In some cases, agencies are imposing mandates that will narrow the range of vehicles that automakers can produce. The EPA, for example, is calling for 67% of all new vehicles to be battery electric in 10 years, a requirement that would squeeze out other fuel-efficient models.

  • “What that’s going to do is cut down on consumer choice,” said Farris. “There are conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, battery electric vehicles and others that could all reduce emissions, but the EPA has cut out all of those and selected one kind of technology.”

NAM in action: The NAM is deeply involved in conversations with policymakers in the administration and Congress, working to give manufacturers the support they need.

  • “We’re working with the agencies, we’re submitting regulatory comments, we’re raising this with the White House and Congress, and we’re working on potential legislation that may address this as well,” said Farris.

Our ask: According to Farris, the NAM is calling on policymakers to take four steps.

  • Harmonize standards: With so many overlapping standards, manufacturers are left without clear guidance. Giving manufacturers a single standard would make it easier for automakers and consumers alike.
  • Set realistic targets: Standards must be achievable to have a real and positive impact.
  • Provide reasonable timeframes: From sourcing critical minerals to manufacturing new engines, automakers need the appropriate time to succeed.
  • Protect consumer choice: Consumers should be able to choose between different kinds of vehicles to reduce emissions overall.

The bottom line: “We have shifting standards, standards that aren’t aligned and overlapping timelines,” said Farris. “If you’re a manufacturer trying to make a single automotive that consumers want right now, you’re shooting at a moving target.” 

Policy and Legal

NAM Fights Auto Regulation Mess

Manufacturers spend years developing and delivering top-of-the-line vehicles for consumers. But as policymakers set new fuel standards and regulations for light vehicles, automakers are finding themselves caught in a tangled mess of policy-making that threatens manufacturers and consumers alike.

Too many regulators: A number of agencies and government bodies, along with the state of California, are each imposing their own fuel-efficiency standards and environmental regulations, forcing automakers to cope with the conflicts and contradictions.

  • “Right now, we’re looking at multiple sets of standards,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris. “That includes the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as separate standards from California. Each has standards for vehicle emissions, and they’re not well-aligned.”

Brief timelines: In addition, all of these regulations come with their own timelines for compliance, which often don’t give manufacturers enough time to innovate, test and produce new vehicles.

  • “The timelines are short,” said Farris. “One of the things we’re asking agencies to recognize is the manufacturing lead time that’s needed.”

Product mandates: In some cases, agencies are imposing mandates that will narrow the range of vehicles that automakers can produce. The EPA, for example, is calling for 67% of all new vehicles to be battery electric in 10 years, a requirement that would squeeze out other fuel-efficient models.

  • “What that’s going to do is cut down on consumer choice,” said Farris. “There are conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, battery electric vehicles and others that could all reduce emissions, but the EPA has cut out all of those and selected one kind of technology.”

Read the full story here.

Press Releases

Manufacturers to White House: Revising Air Regulation Makes Nearly Half the Nation Ineligible for New Manufacturing Investment

Washington, D.C. The National Association of Manufacturers, along with 71 leading business groups representing sectors across the economy, urged White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients to help ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency maintains existing National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

“Manufacturers in America are committed to improving air quality and have been responsible for the development of new processes and technologies that have made our sector more sustainable,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “The Biden administration’s proposal to make these standards even more stringent is putting manufacturing investment at risk across vast swaths of the country and will jeopardize nearly 1 million jobs. If the president and his agencies want the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the CHIPS and Science Act to succeed—and want to see manufacturing in America continue to grow—they should refrain from further changes to the standard, which is already among the most aggressive in the world.”

As the letter states:

A proposed discretionary revision to this standard, which is under review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, could put nearly 40% of the U.S. population in areas of nonattainment. Doing so would risk jobs and livelihoods by making it even more difficult to obtain permits for new factories, facilities and infrastructure to power economic growth. This proposal would also threaten successful implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act and the important clean energy provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Our members have innovated and worked with regulators to lower PM2.5 concentrations significantly, and further progress is being made as part of the energy transition investments. The EPA recently reported that PM2.5 concentrations have declined by 42% since 2000, driven by major emissions reductions from both mobile sources and the power sector. As a result, America’s air is cleaner than ever.

A recent analysis conducted by Oxford Economics and commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers found that the proposed standard would reduce GDP by nearly $200 billion and cost as many as 1 million jobs through 2031.

At 8 ug/m3, the lowest level considered by the EPA, more than 20% of all U.S. counties would be out of attainment and thrown into permitting gridlock.

To view the full letter, click here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers 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 13 million men and women, contributes $2.91 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Input Stories

FCC Seeks to Reinstate Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted late last week to advance a proposal that would reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules, according to The New York Times (subscription).

What’s going on: “The commissioners at the Democratic-led agency voted 3 to 2 along party lines to kick off a monthslong process to bring back so-called net neutrality regulations.”

  • In an NAM-supported move in 2018, the previous administration repealed net neutrality regulations put into place by President Obama in 2015, saying they stymied innovation.

Why it’s important: Last week’s proposal—which telecommunications companies have pledged to fight—“will ultimately enable the agency to categorize high-speed internet as a utility, like water or electricity. … The agency will then be able to police broadband providers for net neutrality violations.”

  • That’s precisely why the proposal to restore the rules is problematic, critics say. A trade group representing telecom firms “wrote letters this week to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees warning of ‘mission creep’ by the F.C.C.”
  • In 2017, then-FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said net neutrality laws amounted to “special interests [who] weren’t trying to solve a real problem but [were] instead looking for an excuse to achieve their longstanding goal of forcing the Internet under the federal government’s control.”

Government overreach: Indeed, the 2015 net neutrality rules—very similar to the ones now being advanced—were a prime example of agency overreach, said NAM Chief Legal Officer Linda Kelly in 2018.

  • The 2015 FCC’s “heavy-handed approach … was neither appropriate nor necessary for the rapidly evolving, highly competitive broadband market,” Kelly said.
  • Net neutrality laws also decrease investment in broadband, the NAM has told policymakers.

Up next: The FCC will take public comments on the proposed rules. The commission could vote to adopt new regulations as soon as early next year.

The last word: “Manufacturers are disappointed the FCC is moving forward with its proposal to regulate 21st-century broadband with rules designed for the era of the rotary phone,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Charles Crain. “Reinstating this misguided, overreaching policy of the past is a recipe for stymied innovation and outdated infrastructure.”

Input Stories

Hydrogen Growth Demands Permitting Reform

Hydrogen demand is likely to skyrocket in the next few decades—if permitting delays and other setbacks don’t stymie it, according to WSJ Pro (subscription).

What’s going on: “A new report from consulting firm McKinsey forecasts a fivefold rise in hydrogen demand to 600 million metric tons a year by 2050, if climate change is limited to 1.5 degree Celsius. On current trajectories, however, that supply could be between 175 million to 291 million metric tons a year if steps aren’t taken to speed up permitting and lower both equipment and investment costs, the report warned.”

  • The report identified three major challenges to meeting the rising demand: increased costs, a slow permitting process and “lack of access to capital,” which can be attributed largely to higher interest rates.

Incentives abound: Government incentives for hydrogen are on the rise. Up to $300 billion has been made available worldwide for hydrogen-energy projects this year, a sixfold increase from 2021.

  • Last week, the Energy Department announced $7 billion in subsidies to create seven clean-hydrogen “hubs” in the U.S.

More support required: More action from government is still needed—particularly when it comes to allowing hydrogen projects to proceed.

  • “Faster permitting times are needed to bring more hydrogen projects online, as well as the renewable energy to power their electrolyzers, industry experts say. A recent report from the International Energy Agency said current project lead times are too long and can act as a barrier to clean hydrogen uptake.”

What we’re doing: Manufacturers have long been urging policymakers to fix the broken U.S. permitting system.

  • The NAM recently laid out a multistep plan for Congress “to modernize and update our nation’s antiquated permitting system.”
Input Stories

IEA: World Needs More Transmission Lines


The world must add or replace nearly 50 million miles of transmission lines in the next 17 years to allow countries to meet climate goals and achieve energy security, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency covered by CNBC.

What’s going on: The amount of transmission line needed—49.7 million miles—“is roughly equivalent to the total number of miles of electric grid that currently exists in the world, according to the IEA.”

  • The undertaking “will require the annual investment in electric grids of more than $600 billion per year by 2030,” double current global investment levels in transmission lines.
  • Countries must also make changes to the way they operate and regulate their grids.

Why it’s important: Investment in global transmission lines has not kept pace with the growing appetite for renewables, and without replacements and additions to transmission lines, power bottlenecks will become “ever larger.”

Growing gridlock—and demand: “There are currently 1,500 gigawatts of renewable clean energy projects in what the IEA calls ‘advanced stages of development’ that are waiting to get connected to the electric grid around the world.”

  • Meanwhile, demand for electricity will only rise as more of the globe moves to electric power.
  • But building new transmission lines takes time, owing to lengthy permitting processes—which is why the NAM has long advocated speeding the process in the U.S.

Our view: “The NAM has identified building additional transmission lines as a top priority for the next round of permit reform negotiations,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris.

  • “We will continue to fight to break down barriers to building new projects, including manufacturing facilities, energy generation, transmission lines, bridges, roads and more.”
Input Stories

A Supply Chain Leader Supports Other Women in Manufacturing


When Carrie Shapiro began her career as an engineering student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, she didn’t expect to work in manufacturing—but the moment she walked into a manufacturing facility near her school for an interview, she was hooked.

“I’ve had so many opportunities in manufacturing that I never wanted to leave,” said Shapiro. “From the very beginning, I was able to keep learning and growing and making better relationships.”

Today, Shapiro serves as the vice president of sourcing execution at Georgia-Pacific—a pulp and paper company—where she guides procurement and uses her expertise in supply chain operations to benefit the company’s 110 facilities. As a leader in the industry, she’s also focused on helping potential creators understand all that manufacturing has to offer.

A changing world: Shapiro’s role has been especially important over the past few years, as the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath forced companies to adjust their supply chains and react to shortages in real time. For Shapiro, that process required rethinking risks, using data effectively and focusing on achieving stability before optimization.

  • “The mistake that we often make is we try to optimize something that’s not stable,” said Shapiro. “If you’ve got chaos in your supply chain, you have no business trying to optimize it. You have to stabilize first.”

A need for humans: As Shapiro notes, data has become more readily available than ever before, and new tools are helping organizations make smart adjustments in real time. Yet, human decision-making and critical thinking still have a vital role at the center of manufacturing.

  • “Tools are great, software is great, tech is great—but it should be an enabler and not a magic wand,” said Shapiro. “You still have to know your process, understand your current state and know your capabilities across the supply chain to make effective decisions. Tools don’t absolve you from doing the real work of continuous improvement.”

Read the full story here.

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