Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26) lauded yesterday's House passage of bipartisan legislation designed to prepare students with the technical skills necessary to grow our domestic manufacturing sector. As a cosponsor of the bill, Lee worked with colleagues to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote.
H.R. 4072, the American Manufacturing Efficiency and Retraining Investment Collection Act (AMERICA Works), prioritizes existing funding for education and training programs through the Carl D. Perkins Vocational--Technical Education Act and the Workforce Investment Act. Introduced by Rep. Walt Minnick of Idaho, Lee included the idea in his recently announced "Manufacturing for Tomorrow"five-point jobs plan and worked toward its passage.
"We cannot strengthen American manufacturing without training more students in science and engineering fields," said Congressman Lee. "AMERICA Works will go a long way towards creating a larger, skilled workforce to help drive our economy. This bill will help drive innovation for American job creators and ensure our country's place as the leading manufacturing country in the world."
"American manufacturers frequently cite the need for a skilled workforce as among their top priorities," said John Engler, President and CEO National Association of Manufacturers. "Employers rely on the right workers with the right skills at the right time to drive innovation, increase productivity and remain globally competitive. Workers need the technical skills to access employment and advancement opportunities. The best way to prepare today's students and transitioning workers for the modern workforce is to offer training in nationally portable, industry-recognized certifications."
Lee noted that America's global economic competitors are "smarter about smarts." Sixty-three percent of Japan's undergraduate degrees are in engineering fields. China graduates 56 percent of its students in engineering. South Korea, 46 percent. The United States trails at 32 percent.
"We need to do better at the brain game," the lawmaker said.
Lee's "Manufacturing for Tomorrow" agenda includes several key reforms to increase education and workforce training and preparedness for the future, including creating a loan forgiveness program to encourage students to enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields and extend existing assistance to encourage domestic manufacturing.
Specific policy reforms in Lee's "Manufacturing for Tomorrow" 5-point jobs plan include:
Tax relief and fairness for U.S. workers and manufacturers
* Lowering the corporate rate to 25% will increase productivity domestically and stimulate significant economic growth.
* Increase and make permanent the research and development tax credit, with a bonus credit for work done in the United States.
Education and workforce training and preparedness for the 21st century
* Create the U.S. STEM Manufacturing Student Loan Forgiveness Program to encourage students to enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
* Extend Employer-Provided Educational Assistance (Section 127) to help U.S. works stay on the cutting edge of innovation in manufacturing.
Tort reform to address job-killing lawsuit abuse
* Make "loser-pays" the policy in product liability suits to protect injured victims and ensure our tort system seeks justice, not profits.
* Cap punitive damages and institute reasonable statutes of limitation to curb lawsuit abuse.
Customs reform to stop intellectual property violations
* Enhance enforcement capabilities of Customs and Border Patrol to stop the flow of pirated goods into the United States.
* Streamline U.S. International Trade Commission complaints to adjudicate intellectual property infringements in a more timely manner.
Open new markets to create U.S. jobs and grow our domestic manufacturing base
* Support pending, Obama-backed trade agreements to create American jobs and open new markets for American products.
* Strengthen Manufacturing Extension Partnership programs to help small manufacturers grow and compete globally