By Kip Eideberg, AEM Senior Vice President of Government & Industry Relations

August RecessCivic engagement matters. In fact, our government cannot function without the active participation by our citizens. Each August, members of Congress go home to their states or districts. This is an opportunity to engage our elected officials and remind them about the importance of equipment manufacturers to communities across the country.

To make sure you are well equipped when you run into your elected officials this August, here is an update on where things stand on the industry’s top policy priorities. With your help, we can make sure lawmakers have the information they need to support pro-manufacturing policies that help our industry create good-paying jobs, invest in local communities, and keep our nation strong.

Infrastructure

AEM continues to make the case that the federal government must play a strong role in funding U.S. infrastructure construction, maintenance, and modernization. After all, infrastructure is the backbone of America’s economy, and investing in infrastructure will create good-paying American jobs and generate billions of dollars in investment in communities across the country.

Since the start of this year, AEM has appeared on Congressional panels, held town halls, played a key role during this year’s Infrastructure Week, penned op-eds, and activated its grassroots supporters in support of a comprehensive infrastructure package.

However, despite the promises by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to pass a major bill this year, politics has gotten in the way of action. While this can be frustrating, we cannot afford to let it get in the way of real progress. That is why we need to continue to remind our elected officials that the future of our industry and our country depend on them setting aside partisan concerns and working together to get things done.

Thanks to AEM’s work, momentum for infrastructure is slowly building. For example, the U.S. Senate has been working on a plan to pass a surface reauthorization bill through the Committee on Environment and Public Works before the August recess (the Committee recently held a hearing on the need for a multi-year reauthorization bill). While that would be a step in the right direction, we still need a long-term, comprehensive infrastructure bill that not only upgrades our surface transportation infrastructure, but also provides adequate resources to improve harbors and waterways, prioritizes urban-rural connectivity, modernizes airports, and much more.

So please keep infrastructure at the top of your list of issues to raise with your elected officials.

Trade

With 30 percent of equipment made in the United States destined for export, one of the most important things that the Trump administration and Congress can do is to support pro-growth trade policies that keep U.S. equipment manufacturing competitive in a rapidly growing global market.

That is why AEM continues to fight against protectionist tariffs and support the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the trilateral North American trade agreement that will modernize NAFTA.

Tariffs artificially raise the cost of domestic production, eliminate export markets for equipment manufacturers, and continue to risk wiping out many of the benefits of tax reform. In fact, a study issued by AEM earlier this year showed that tariffs could suppress U.S. job gains by as much as 400,000 over the next 10 years, including many jobs in our industry. To make matters worse, the retaliatory tariffs China has imposed on major American agricultural exports have significantly hurt U.S. farmers and ranchers, further reducing the demand for agriculture equipment.

While much work remains before all of the Section 232 and Section 301 tariffs have been removed, AEM has successfully fought to keep other tariffs from going into place, including a series of escalating tariffs on all Mexican imports.

In the meantime, we should all remind our elected officials that passing the USMCA is critical to securing equipment manufacturers’ two largest export markets, Canada and Mexico, and creating more American jobs. In fact, according to a study by the U.S. International Trade Commission, the USMCA will benefit the U.S. economy by generating an additional 176,000 new jobs. The USMCA will also benefit our industry in a variety of ways, including opening up Canada’s market to more U.S. agricultural exports, establishing rules for e-commerce that will help manufacturers and customers better share data, and helping small businesses by updating custom rules that will cut red tape and promote greater cross-border trade with Canada and Mexico. We need your help to push Congress to ratify the USMCA and educate the American public about the importance of trade for equipment manufacturers and communities across the country.

Agriculture

As a recent video in our “Behind Every Product” series made it clear, strong and prosperous agricultural communities mean that the equipment manufacturing industry is thriving. AEM continues to educate lawmakers about the importance of the agricultural economy to our industry, and with your help we have secured a couple of important wins this year.

Earlier this year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced their decision to allow the year-round sale of E15 gasoline, which puts the ethanol industry on the path to an additional 1.3 billion gallons of demand within five years.

In addition to continuing to advocate for consumers’ uninterrupted access to higher ethanol blend, AEM is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Communications Commission on the implementation of the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 – an important provision in the 2018 Farm Bill that AEM secured. With your continued support we will continue to champion policies that benefit our nation’s farmers and ranchers as well as equipment manufacturers.

For more information about AEM’s top advocacy priorities visit www.aem.org/advocacy. And if you have the opportunity to engage with your elected officials this August, whether it is at a town hall, the state fair or the local fish fry, please consider bringing up one or more of these issues. Together we can make sure that our industry continues to prosper.

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