The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) is asking Iowa’s federal legislators to step up and support their industry.
AEM is an organization that represents construction and agriculture manufacturers including Iowa notables such as John Deere and Vermeer.
The association wants Iowa’s delegation to get behind the bipartisan Innovation Act, which includes multiple smaller bills that would help the industry by expanding the workforce, increasing competition, and incentivizing domestic production for certain equipment parts—mainly microprocessors.
“If they want to stand up come September and October when the election is in full swing and say that they are supporting the equipment manufacturing industry in Iowa, then they better have voted for this bill,” said Kip Eideberg, senior vice president for government and industry relations for AEM.
The jobs part of the bill would expand federal Pell grant eligibility for short-term trades programs, modernize the apprenticeship program, and create a grant program for workforce development.
Eideberg said the workforce piece of the legislation is crucial because all the rest could pass, but without people to do the jobs and build the equipment, it would be moot.
Domestic production of parts such as microprocessors would also allow American manufacturers to be in charge of the full manufacturing process, and lead to finished equipment that can be shipped out instead of waiting for a single part.
Eideberg said about 60% of new equipment is missing at least one component because of shipping delays, and that’s usually the microprocessor.
“By incentivizing the domestic production of microprocessors or chips, that’s going to go a long way in addressing that challenge for our industry,” he said. “So that’s a key part of this piece of legislation.”
Two different but related bills have been passed—one in the House, one in the Senate—and now the chambers are working to come together on the differences.
Eideberg hopes the final product has all of the benefits.
“It is always unfortunate when politics get in the way of good policy,” he said. “We feel like there is much good that this bipartisan Innovation Act will do for Iowa equipment manufacturers, for the equipment manufacturing industry as a whole. And so they may not be entirely pleased with everything that’s in the package but that’s no reason not to vote for it.”
Only Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa and Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) have supported their chambers’ respective versions of the bill. Sen. Joni Ernst and Reps. Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and Randy Feenstra, all Republicans, have voted against the different versions.
And yet, Eideberg said he’s hopeful.
This is partly because he invited Ernst to Weiler Products, an AEM member based in Knoxville, on Wednesday. Eideberg said she was open to talking about improving the workforce and has previously supported the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which will make American ports run more smoothly.
Thank you to @WeilerProducts and @AEMAdvocacy for hosting me today in Marion County for an insightful discussion about ways Washington can support American manufacturing and for the tour of this great Iowa facility. #99CountyTour pic.twitter.com/V1a5YHuy4w
— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) April 20, 2022
“I am optimistic that we will get more Republicans in the House to vote for this bill than what we ended up with on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” Eideberg said.
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