More than 80 million people watched the first Presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton – the most watched in television history. That tells me Americans are paying attention and are engaged. Now they must get to the polls. Voter registration deadlines are fast approaching. So are the deadlines to file an absentee ballot. Please urge your colleagues, workers, family and friends to be aware of these dates and #MakeTheVote for manufacturing. Visit for important dates and election information in your state. 

Congress recesses until after the election

Last month, I reported that Congress had returned to Capitol Hill after the month-and-a-half long "August" recess. This month, I’m reporting that Congress has recessed again – this time until after the November 8 election. 

While September was short on legislative working days, lawmakers did get a few things cleared from the agenda. A top priority was keeping the government running until Congress returns to town. 

Short-term spending bill

With one day to spare until money ran out, President Obama signed into law a spending package that continues funding government agencies until December 9, when Congress is back in Washington for a post-election lame-duck session. The continuing resolution also includes $1 billion to respond to the Zika virus; $500 million for flood relief in Louisiana and other states; and fiscal 2017 appropriations for military construction and veterans’ programs.

Bill would establish chief manufacturing officer

Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Tom Reed (R-NY) introduced legislation to establish the position of U.S. Chief Manufacturing Officer (CMO) in the Executive Office of the President. Reps. Ryan and Reed are co-chairmen of the bipartisan House Manufacturing Caucus.

According to the bill’s sponsors, some legislative policies and executive actions have resulted in unintended, inconsistent and conflicting outcomes with respect to the growth of manufacturing in the United States. They say high level coordination and planning are needed to ensure that all actions and strategies would lead to a clear path for growth of the manufacturing sector.

The CMO would be responsible for coordinating manufacturing-related policies and activities across agencies. The CMO would also develop a national manufacturing strategy to revitalize the manufacturing sector, spur economic growth and expand U.S. competitiveness.

Manufacturing USA announced at IMTS

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker used the occasion of  her IMTS opening day keynote to announce that “Manufacturing USA” is the new brand name for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. Since the program was launched in 2012, nine manufacturing innovation institutes have been established or announced as part of the network, with six more in the planning stage. These public-private partnerships each have distinct technology focus areas but work toward a common goal: securing our future through manufacturing innovation, education and collaboration.