Congress won’t be in Washington for most of 2016. The House and Senate will break for the “August” recess in mid-July until after Labor Day, work through September, and then break again until after the elections. Most of the legislative work will be concentrated on tying up loose ends from 2015 and preparing for 2017, when a new Congress convenes and a new president takes the oath of office. 

Here’s a brief look at what actually happened in 2015:
 
  • Congress approved the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act – the first long-term transportation bill in 17 years. The FAST act also finally extended the Ex-Im Bank’s Charter after it was forced to shut down for the first time in its 80-year history.
  • Three new Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation were launched as part of the National Network on Manufacturing Innovation, each focused on a different technology area – photonics, advanced composites, and flexible hybrid electronics. 
  • The Obama administration launched an effort to double the number of apprenticeships by 2019 and awarded $175 million in grants to 46 public-private partnerships to reach that goal, representing the single largest investment to date to expand U.S. apprenticeships. 
  • Congress approved Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), paving the way for the successful negotiation of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. 
  • Increased Sec. 179 expensing and the R&D tax credit were made permanent; and bonus depreciation was extended for five years. 
Even with these victories, there’s a lot of work ahead. There are still significant barriers to U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. Many of our tax, trade and regulatory policies work against U.S.-based companies. 

With a lame-duck president and a year on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will control the tone and agenda on Capitol Hill. He continues to emphasize the importance of negotiation and compromise within his own party and across party lines to get a few things done in 2016:
 
  • Building upon last year’s success to make more progress toward an overhaul of our tax system in the next Congress. AMT will have a seat at the table, including monthly meetings with high-level staff from the House and Senate leadership and tax-writing committees. 
  • Securing approval of the TPP and restarting stalled negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), a trade agreement between the EU and the U.S. AMT is part of a large coalition of organizations and businesses advocating for progress on these agreements. 
  • Electing GOP candidates to office. AMT is non-partisan. Our #MakeTheVote campaign puts the focus on pro-manufacturing candidates, regardless of party. 
Our industry voice is louder and our chances for success greater when you join the effort to keep American manufacturing competitiveness at the top of the policy agenda. 

Visit www.AMTonline.org/AdvocateForManufacturing or write me at athomas@AMTonline.org to find out how.