NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined forces this week to urge Congress to adopt a multiyear, fully funded surface transportation bill to offer certainty and support for infrastructure projects that improve safety, facilitate trade and create jobs.
“Transportation infrastructure carries the weight of the economy and helps sustain long-term economic prosperity,” Timmons testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, stressing the urgency of bringing the federal Highway Trust Fund to an improved condition of solvency and long-term sustainability.
“Unfortunately, I hear concerns about the state of our infrastructure from NAM members constantly, regardless of their size or sector,” said Timmons. “From the world’s largest multinationals to family businesses up and down Main Streets across America, everyone recognizes that our aging infrastructure is a significant impediment to our nation’s competitiveness and our ability to maintain our mantle of economic leadership.”
Timmons was joined by a diverse group of panelists all advocating for a new surface transportation bill, including Donohue, Trumka, Mike Hancock of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and Dr. T. Peter Ruane of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.
During his testimony, Timmons highlighted a survey sponsored by the NAM and Building America’s Future that shows manufacturers’ concerns with America’s roads and bridges, transit and aviation systems and ports. According to the survey of more than 400 manufacturers, a majority believe American infrastructure is in fair or poor shape, while roads in particular are getting worse.
For NAM members, access to a reliable and cost-effective transportation network by land, sea and air is critical to reaching customers here and abroad. Modernizing and investing in infrastructure is a key priority of the NAM’s Growth Agenda to make the United States the best place in the world to manufacture and attract foreign direct investment.
“Infrastructure matters to manufacturers,” Timmons told committee members. “It matters during every step of the production process, from receiving inputs to shipping our products to markets at home and to customers abroad. In addition, manufacturers are vital suppliers to the transit and road-building industry, providing rolling stock, engines, concrete, machinery, aggregates, barriers, signs, safety equipment and other materials.”
Timmons noted, “I know it’s a tall order in a political environment that is so highly charged, but America’s manufacturers need bipartisan leadership to help fix the problem. Manufacturers are counting on Congress to fulfill its well-established responsibility of facilitating commerce in the United States.”
Timmons also highlighted the importance of infrastructure this week before the Waterways Council, the national public policy organization that is an advocate for a modern and well-maintained system of ports and inland waterways.
“Manufacturers rely on waterways to receive the inputs they need to make their products and then to ship their products to market,” he told the Council. “Infrastructure, whether waterways, roads, rail or airways, is a competitiveness issue, and one on which our members want us to be engaged.”
Manufacturers helped lead the way on last year’s most significant infrastructure bill, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which cleared the House and Senate and is now in conference committee. Manufacturers, for example, joined former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) at the Port of Philadelphia for a press event to call attention to a critical facility that is badly in need of modernization to support manufacturing exports.