Today, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced H.R. 6081, the Advancing Innovative Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2012, to accelerate research, development, and innovation in advanced manufacturing and improve the competitiveness of American manufacturers.
The legislation is part of the House Democrats' "Make It In America" agenda, a plan to support job creation today and in the future by encouraging businesses to make products and innovate in the U.S. and sell to the rest of the world.
Nearly 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been added to the economy since 2010, which is the first time there has been an increase in manufacturing employment since the 1990s. Unfortunately, however, the U.S. manufacturing sector is facing a number of significant challenges. According to the Council on Competitiveness, the United States currently ranks fourth in global manufacturing competitiveness and is expected to fall to fifth place in five years. Additionally, countries such as Korea, Japan, and Germany have a larger share of the advanced manufacturing sector than the United States and each of these countries has a positive trade balance in advanced manufacturing products. In contrast, the United States had an $81 billion dollar trade deficit in 2010. At the same time, manufacturing activity has rapidly increased in emerging economies such as China.
Ranking Member Johnson said, "American manufacturing is a critical part of our economy, employing more than 11 million Americans in high-paying jobs, accounting for 60 percent of all U.S. exports, and contributing over $1.7 trillion to the Nation's gross domestic product in 2010."
She continued, "The AIM Act of 2012 will help to ensure our manufacturing sector is the most sophisticated and innovative in the world, using the newest transformative technologies and the most efficient methods and processes. By doing this, we can regain our global leadership in manufacturing, create jobs, and increase our national security. The challenges facing U.S. manufacturers are urgent. This bill will improve our competitive position in advanced manufacturing and ensure that the U.S. manufacturing sector has a vibrant and robust future."
To ensure that the United States is the global leader in advanced manufacturing, the AIM Act of 2012:
Establishes a program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology ( NIST) to foster the creation of public-private research consortia -- composed of representatives from private industry, government, and universities -- focused on identifying the long-term, critical precompetitive manufacturing-related research needs of particular industry sectors; develop research roadmaps; and share the cost of conducting the identified research.
Creates a pilot program at NIST for small and medium-sized manufacturers to conduct research and development (R&D); explore the technological potential of a concept; and position them to successfully commercialize the new product, process, or technology.
Establishes a pilot program at the Department of Commerce to provide small and medium-sized manufacturers with vouchers to acquire R&D or innovation expertise to enable them to be more competitive.
Authorizes a grant program at the National Science Foundation to provide funding to community colleges to reform and expand advanced manufacturing education through activities such as the development of curriculum, faculty professional development, and the establishment of advanced manufacturing centers that will serve as models and provide leadership in advanced manufacturing education.
Original cosponsors of the AIM Act include: Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Rep. Jerry F. Costello (D-IL), Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey (D-CA), Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-MD), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-AL), Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR).