American Manufacturers Urge Pro-Growth Polices

February 14, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, chaired by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), today kicked off its “Our Nation of Builders” hearing series with a focus on the challenges currently facing American manufacturers. Today’s panel of witnesses featured manufacturers from the districts of the subcommittee members. The witnesses, along with several other manufacturers, also participated in the subcommittee’s “Manufacturing Showcase” this morning, which displayed over 60 individual products made by the members’ constituents. 

Chairman Terry convened the hearing to assess the current climate of manufacturing in America and learn about ways to improve it.

“Today, we are going to start from square one by focusing on a sector which has undoubtedly served as a core building block in securing America’s greatness: Manufacturing,” said Chairman Terry. “Our goal is simple: to hear directly from the individuals most intimately affected by U.S. manufacturing policies -- the manufacturers themselves -- and gain a clearer understanding about what is right with American manufacturing today and what can be done to make it better tomorrow.”

The witnesses urged policymakers to adopt pro-growth policies to allow America’s manufacturers to succeed in a global marketplace, including the need for lower tax rates, less burdensome regulations, and more favorable trade policies.

Representing Chairman Terry’s district, Bob Holler, Global Respiratory Protection Business Director for 3M, testified about 3M’s global manufacturing site for respiratory protective equipment located in Valley, Nebraska. The plant provides a range of personal protective equipment for workers. Holler explained the need for U.S. manufacturers to be able to compete in a worldwide marketplace. “While its U.S. presence is strong, 3M is increasingly a global company. Specifically, in 2012, approximately two-thirds of 3M’s sales were outside the United States,” said Holler. “In the current global economy, where international markets are growing faster than U.S. markets, being able to compete successfully in the global marketplace is critical to 3M.”

From the district of Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), Eric Myers testified as the President of Oil City Iron Works, a Texas foundry that manufactures different types of metal castings for the energy industry. Meyers warned of the dangerous consequences of overregulation, stating, “While some regulations are necessary, the current regulatory system is out of balance and a significant impediment to the competitiveness and growth of my foundry and our industry. More than ever, it is critically important that we regulate only that which requires regulation, and only after a thorough vetting of potential benefits, impacts and costs of that regulation on businesses and the manufacturing supply chain.”

Richard Yuse, President of Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems Division, testified about Raytheon’s facility in Forest, Mississippi. The facility, located in Rep. Gregg Harper’s (R-MS) district, employs about 700 workers to manufacture cutting-edge defense technologies like the radars used in our military’s fighter planes. Yuse explained the need for more favorable U.S. trade polices to help bolster our economy and strengthen our national security. “Raytheon’s ability to succeed in the global marketplace requires a skilled, well-trained, and dedicated workforce, a stable fiscal, tax, and regulatory environment, and the ability to export our products to United States allies. In fact, as our domestic budget faces increased pressure, defense exports can help decrease costs and risk associated with technological advances for the US. Military, support America’s industrial base, and strengthen our balance of trade.”

James Steiner, Senior Vice President for Corning Incorporated, represented the Corning manufacturing facility in Harrodsburg, Kentucky located in Rep. Brett Guthrie’s (R-KY) district. This world-class facility makes the revolutionary product branded as Gorilla Glass, which is used in technology devices like the iPhone. Steiner described how American engineering and innovation transformed his company and Americans’ lives. He explained, “Simply put, invention, innovation, and low-cost manufacturing through process engineering are the keys to success in American manufacturing.” Steiner went on to describe the policy lessons Corning learned through its Gorilla Glass experience, including the need for a fair tax code, strong intellectual property protections, and access to global markets.

Jeff Smatsky, the Factory Manager of Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water in Pasco County, testified today representing the district of Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). The Florida plant employs 258 full time employees and an additional 30 seasonal workers. Smatsky explained the need for uniform standards, particularly as it relates to labeling requirements, stating, “The current patchwork of state regulations not only allows for uncertainty, but could end up in conflicting sets of rules that impede our ability to get our products to market through our efficient, high-speed manufacturing and distribution network.”

“The benefits of building products in the U.S. are clear: higher average wages, increased innovation, and greater economic multiplier effects for the entire economy. There are many challenges facing American manufacturers today, but I am still confident manufacturing can lead the way,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

To view photos from today's #NationOfBuilders Manufacturing Showcase, click HERE.

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