I Make America Shifts into High Gear
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Congress begun to take the action we've been calling for
As you know, AEM launched the national I Make America campaign in 2010 to help build grassroots pressure on Congress to take action on policies critical to U.S. economic growth, global competitiveness and the strength of the equipment manufacturing industry. Very high on our policy priority list has been investment in our nation's infrastructure through the passage of a fully funded, multi-year highway bill, and I can finally report that Congress begun to take the action we've been calling for.
A Critical Moment: Congress Takes Up the Highway Bill
This week, the full House and Senate begin consideration of their bills to reauthorize the national surface transportation programs. The Senate's bill, known as the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), reauthorizes the bill for a two-year period; the House bill, the American Infrastructure and Jobs Act, covers a five-year period. Both bills would fund the programs at roughly current levels (a victory in itself when you remember that the House leadership started out from a position advocating a 30% cut in infrastructure funding). However, there are significant differences between the bills' funding approaches which will need to be reconciled by a House-Senate conference committee before a final reauthorization bill can be passed by both chambers and signed into law. Among the more controversial elements are the House's use of revenues from onshore and offshore energy leasing and production programs, including drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, the inclusion by the House of a provision to expedite the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a Senate proposal making changes to the cellulosic biofuels tax credit used for the wood pulp by-product known as "black liquor." In addition, the House bill took the highly controversial step of eliminating from the Highway Trust Fund's dedicated revenue stream for public transit, and this provision has transit advocates calling for the House bill's defeat.
This is a critical moment. Floor action by the full House and Senate should conclude this week, and many amendments are expected to be offered. AEM's position is that both bills must be passed and sent to a conference committee where a bipartisan compromise can be reached and signed into law, giving our industry and the U.S. economy the certainty it needs to grow.
I Make America Campaign Call to Action: What Members Need to Do Now
This is where you come in. This week, AEM is rolling out the 2012 I Make America campaign plan, with an even stronger emphasis on AEM member engagement and grassroots advocacy. In addition to extending our reach and influence on Capitol Hill, we've created a congressional tour program to bring your Members of Congress direct to your facility, where they can see and hear first-hand how their legislative action – or inaction – directly affects your company and employees. This week, we will be updating our campaign toolkit materials and the I Make America web page on AEM.org to make delivering I Make America's messages to your employees and customers easier and more effective. I Make America's power base is the membership of AEM, and working together we will make a difference not just on the highway bill, but on all the issues affecting our business.
In the coming days and weeks, be on the lookout for issue alerts and calls-to-action on the highway bill. As we've always said, to get something done in Washington, you have to make some noise. And now is the time to mobilize the I Make America grassroots army and get this critical legislation on the president's desk. Your support and involvement will make the difference.
Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)