Now that both the House of Representatives and Senate have passed much-needed legislation aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness vis-à-vis China and easing supply chain challenges, what’s next? We talked to the NAM’s policy team to find out—and to learn what it all means for manufacturers.
Cause for celebration: There’s much for our industry to applaud in the House’s America COMPETES Act, as well as the overwhelmingly bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act that the Senate passed last June. Importantly, both bills promote bold investments in our country’s global technology leadership. Here are some of the key provisions:
Technology and innovation
- $52 billion to support and expand domestic production of semiconductors, a crucial component in the manufacturing of numerous goods, including electronics and vehicles.
- Creates a “directorate for technology and innovation” at the National Science Foundation to increase research at universities and partner institutions and expands and enhances the Manufacturing USA program, which brings together industry, government and academia to invest in new technologies.
Intellectual property protection
- Critical anti-counterfeiting provisions designed “to protect American manufacturing workers and consumers” by keeping fake and dangerous goods off e-commerce platforms, NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse told the House last week. The measures align with NAM priorities laid out in a critical July 2020 white paper.
Supply chain resiliency
- A new Supply Chain Resiliency and Crisis Response Office in the Department of Commerce to lead a government-wide approach to supply chain resilience. In support of this mission, the office would administer a new fund (authorized at $45 billion over five years) that would provide grants, loans and loan guarantees to manufacturers.
Needs work: Still, in the NAM’s view, some key components of the legislation require fixes to best serve U.S. and manufacturers’ interests. These comprise the following:
- As it stands, the America COMPETES Act “would significantly—and in our view, potentially arbitrarily—limit the ability of manufacturers to import certain products under the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill,” said NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Ken Monahan. The NAM is also “urging MTB retroactivity back to Jan. 1, 2021, when the previous MTB expired.”
- While the NAM supports holding countries such as China accountable for unfair and illegitimate trade, the America COMPETES Act imposes restrictions on so-called de minimis treatment that helps facilitate low-value imports, which “is not the right approach,” said Monahan.
- The America COMPETES Act does not contain language to address concerns related to the Section 301 tariff-exclusion process. Congress should amend the legislation to “reinstate Section 301 tariff exclusion processes and improve upon the Section 301 tariff exclusion review process,” said Monahan.
- Labor and card check provisions added at the last minute in the America COMPETES Act are “ill-considered,” said Newhouse, as they would “limit employee rights and choice.” These provisions should be eliminated.
The last word: “As lawmakers look to begin negotiating a compromise between these two bills, manufacturers remain committed to working with both the House and Senate to make certain the final version of this legislation meets the crucial needs of the manufacturing community,” said NAM Vice President of Government Relations Jordan Stoick.