We all remember the summers of our childhood – both real and imagined. It stretched in front of us as an opportunity to reinvent the world and ourselves.
Work and responsibilities have altered our views on summertime, but this industry should take this next two months as our opportunity to put our mark on policy decisions that will reinvent our industry. The U.S. Senate is currently in a two-week recess and, at the end of this week, the House will follow for a one-week break. When they return, there is a long list of significant issues facing Congress that are critical to our future.
The time to chart our destiny is now. Workforce, supply chain, trade, infrastructure, and emissions regulations will shape our industry for years to come.
Get involved now. Become part of our grassroots system by texting MEMA to 52886. Not only will we keep you updated on all the important issues facing the industry, but we will also give you the tools to advocate for the industry in one simple step.
What I Am Watching For
Will September bring more workers back into our facilities or are they lost forever? The states are moving forward with aggressive workforce training and upskilling efforts and the federal government must follow their lead.
The House is set to consider a narrow transportation bill this week. The Senate will need to act next, and this will probably be accompanied by a massive spending bill that would only require Democratic votes. However, these legislative packages must address the needs of the industry if we are to work with the administration to lower vehicle emissions.
The Senate has agreed to legislation that provides $52 billion for semiconductor R&D and manufacturing in the U.S. However, the House passed legislation does not contain this measure. The Senate and the House must now agree on final legislation and this must address the need for funding for additional semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S.
President Biden must minimize the impact tariffs have had on our industry by reinstating the exclusion processes for steel and aluminum tariffs and goods imported from China.
Workforce continues to be the most pressing issue for suppliers. Like many other industries, suppliers are having difficulty identifying and attracting individuals to work in their facilities. While many states have eliminated the federal unemployment subsidy, many states continue to provide this additional stipend to their citizens. MEMA is continuing to monitor these developments closely.
In addition, MEMA continues to push for the inclusion of training and apprenticeship programs in any legislation that moves through Congress. The industry must continue to support these efforts. I would also encourage you to partner with your state economic development council and other state workforce entities. States are often quick to respond to immediate needs than federal programs. For example, Indiana is leading the way in providing resources that connect employers and citizens to job openings and training programs. Check out these programs for both your short-term and long-term needs.
Infrastructure and Emissions
The future of an infrastructure bill will be decided in July. The House expects to pass a limited piece of legislation by the end of this week. The Senate may then follow and also attempt to pass a larger, more expensive package.
However, the limited infrastructure bill has significant drawbacks. The industry’s immediate concerns should focus on the impact it will have on long-term emissions policy.
While Congress considers infrastructure legislation, the administration is preparing to release pre-2026 fuel efficiency and emissions standards. These will be followed by proposed standards for the 2026 model year and beyond. MEMA expects the post-2026 standards to set in motion the need to electrify a significant portion of the light-vehicle fleet. The House legislation does provide funding for additional charging stations but does not provide funding for research and development, retooling existing facilities, consumer purchase incentives, or upskilling and retraining of the workforce. MEMA has long identified these as critical elements for a comprehensive plan. It is unclear if or when these elements will be addressed but the industry must insist that just increasing the number of charging stations will not provide the infrastructure demands for a successful transition for greater electrification in the U.S. fleet.
Semiconductors, Supply Chain, and Trade
2021 will be remembered for many things including the supply chain crisis. The shortage of semiconductors, slow-down at the ports, and increasing price of raw materials are putting massive strains on the industry. Suppliers must use every opportunity to urge Congress and the administration to act.
These actions include:
Fund $52 billion for the research and development and manufacture of wafers and semiconductors in the United States, including $2 billion for the manufacture of legacy chips used by the motor vehicle industry;
Address the slow-down in the ports by pushing through modernization of the Federal Maritime Commission and address aged systems and processes that have created bottlenecks in the system; and
Reinstate the exclusion process for both steel and aluminum subject to Section 232 tariffs as well as goods imported from China subject to Section 301 tariffs.
Sign Up for Your Grassroots Program
The most important thing you can do right now is to be heard. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for the MEMA grassroots program. Text MEMA to 52886 and you will receive legislative and regulatory updates and action alerts. MEMA will also be organizing home- town visits with members of Congress in August. We need you to participate. Your voice will define your future.