BCA UNITES WITH NAM AND HUNDREDS MORE TO PROMOTE PRO-GROWTH POLICIES
This week, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) hosted the 2013 Manufacturing Summit in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of manufacturers and supporters gathered to rally support for pro-manufacturing policies on Capitol Hill. The Summit featured Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, several pro-manufacturing members of Congress and policy experts from the National Association of Manufacturers.
"The people in this room represent so much of our nation's economic success and frankly, our potential for the future," Boehner said. "Our vision is one of a country where everyone has the opportunity to build something from nothing."
"Manufacturers agree with Speaker Boehner that it is unacceptable that America has fallen into the 'new normal' as our economy struggles to recover at the slowest rate since World War II," said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. "We are happy to see his focus is on jobs and turning the economy around. This slow pace of growth is unacceptable, and we need action in Washington that will allow manufacturers to grow and create jobs. Manufacturers' Growth Agenda can move us forward to lead our economy."
Prior to the Summit, BCA President and CEO William J. Canary participated in a roundtable with dozens of other state manufacturing leaders through the NAM's State Associations Group, which recognizes one organization in each state that serves as the voice of manufacturing. In Alabama, the BCA proudly serves as the affiliate with the NAM's State Associations Group. Earlier in the year, Canary was elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the State Associations Group which gives Alabama's manufacturing community an even stronger voice in the fight to strengthen manufacturing in the United States.
"In Alabama, we have witnessed first-hand how manufacturing can positively transform our communities," Canary said. "Like we have done at the state level in Alabama, we must work together with leaders in other states and the NAM to collectively change the paradigm that exists where federal policies do not promote a manufacturing renaissance. Many at the federal level say they are pro-jobs or pro-manufacturing, and we say put your policies where your mouth is. The Business Council of Alabama is proud to be a partner with the National Association of Manufacturers, which has stepped up to the plate to lead the charge."
To learn more about the National Association of Manufacturers visit their website at www.nam.org. Read the full story for more about the 2013 NAM Manufacturing Summit.
Pictured above: BCA President and CEO William J. Canary (left) with NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons (Right). Shown in the top left of the photo is the Building a Better Alabama Award that BCA presented to Timmons in 2011 for his advocacy on behalf of U.S. manufacturers.
U.S. HOUSE REJECTS FARM BILL PARTLY OVER FOOD STAMP CUTS
The House voting 195-234 on Thursday rejected a five-year, $940-billion farm bill that Republican leaders had hoped would cut food stamp programs by more than $20 billion and overall spending by $40 billion over 10 years. Democrats as well as Republicans opposed it. Democrats said it cuts food stamps and Republicans said it was too expensive for taxpayers when the country is $17 trillion in debt. Only 24 House Democrats voted yes while 62 Republicans voted against it. Alabama's six Republican members of Congress voted yes and the state's sole Democratic U.S. representative, Terri Sewell of Birmingham, voted no. "While I am supportive of a five-year farm bill extension, I voted against H.R. 1947 today because this bill did not strike the balance needed to protect the farmers in my district as well as those in Alabama who depend on nutrition assistance," Sewell said. More than 914,000 Alabamians received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in May, according to the Department of Human Resources. Sewell said that 160,000 people in her district receive SNAP benefits.
"The spenders won," said U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, in a statement. "While not perfect, the Farm Bill that died today represents a missed opportunity to save taxpayers $40 billion through responsible improvements to current law."
Republicans expected Democrats to deliver 40 votes and charged that Democrats didn't stick with the bill as expected. Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Democratic leaders pressured colleagues and the White House threatened to veto the bill over the food stamp cuts. One amendment would have ended production limits for dairy producers and another would have required food stamp beneficiaries to either work or look for work.
The Senate version, S. 954, would cut the food stamp appropriation by about $4 billion and overall spending by $20 billion. Alabama's two U.S. senators last week voted against the Senate version. The current farm bill ends Sept. 30. Democrats in general believe that food stamp cuts are cruel to children while Republicans generally believe that food stamps continue a culture of government dependency.
SESSIONS FILES AMENDMENT TO SENATE IMMIGRATION BILL
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., filed an amendment to S. 744, the Senate immigration bill. Sessions adapted the House SAFE Act that passed out of the House Judiciary Committee this week for his amendment. Sessions said he's been focusing on "security flaws" in the Senate bill being pushed by the so-called bipartisan Gang of Eight. Sessions said their plan provides "immediate amnesty without border security" and "de facto amnesty" for "future illegal aliens." Sessions announced the amendment in a statement from his office.
Immigration reform is part of the Business Council of Alabama's federal legislative agenda for 2013. The BCA signed a U.S. Chamber of Commerce letter to all members of Congress urging comprehensive immigration reform. "Improvements to our nation's immigration policies are long overdue and are essential to continued economic growth," the Chamber letter states.
Sessions has taken up the cause of border security officers in claiming that the immigration bill has security and enforcement flaws. He said the president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, Chris Crane, said ICE officers are increasingly prohibited by the administration from arresting and removing immigration violators. "Yet, instead of cracking down on the administration's abuse of power, S. 744 places unprecedented new restrictions on interior enforcement - making the current situation much worse and much more hazardous'," Sessions said.
In the U.S. House, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, proposed using parts of the Senate bill as an amendment to the House immigration bill, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. His amendment was defeated. Bachus said he supports comprehensive immigration reform. A Senate compromise would create a path to citizenship while putting border security measures in place.
Two Senate Republicans want to repeal estate tax
The Hill Becker (6/19) U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, on Wednesday said they'll reintroduce legislation almost identical to what they released previously to permanently end the estate tax.
"Thune, a member of Senate GOP leadership as well as the Finance Committee, cited a study from the conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin that said that repealing the estate tax - or 'death tax,' as Republicans have labeled it - would create some 1.5 million new jobs.
"This tax punishes farmers and entrepreneurs for a lifetime of hard work," Thune said in a statement. "Death should not be a taxable event, and I will continue to work in Congress to see a permanent end to this unfair tax." Congress, in the deal to avoid the fiscal cliff signed early this year, permanently placed the estate tax rate at 40 percent, and the exemption at an inflation-indexed $5 million.
"But top Republicans remain steadfast in their interest in repealing the tax, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and the top Republican at Senate Finance, Orrin Hatch (Utah), appearing at a Wednesday event on the matter. "What kind of government swoops in upon your death and takes nearly half of the nest egg you've spent your entire life building?" Brady, a senior member of House Ways and Means, said in a statement.
"President Obama called for raising the estate tax rate to 45 percent in his most recent budget, with the exemption dropping to $3.5 million. The Tax Policy Center has estimated that the indexed $5 million exemption would affect about 8,700 tax returns in 2013, while the $3.5 million exemption would ensnare about 15,300."
(Editor's Note: U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, a long-time advocate of repealing the tax, is one of 28 co-sponsors
Roby praises House committee action on education
Roby statement (6/19) "The House Committee on Education and the Workforce today advanced marquee legislation rewriting the nation's K-12 education law to support more effective teachers, empower parents and affirm states' authority over education policy decisions. H.R. 5, The Student Success Act, seeks several reforms to current education law, including reining in the federal government's intrusive and burdensome role in schools. U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL), a bill co-sponsor, said reducing the federal footprint in education is in the best interest of students.
"We need excellent teachers in every classroom and inspired administrators in every school," Rep. Roby said. "But even the most gifted educators can be hamstrung by unrealistic federal mandates and bureaucratic red tape. This top-down, Washington-knows-best approach to education isn't working. It's time to get Washington out of the way and return control over education policy to state and local leaders.
"Reducing the federal footprint in education has been a priority for Rep. Roby, who promoted the cause in standalone legislation, the Defending State Authority Over Education Act. State leaders and education advocates throughout Alabama have recently spoken out in favor of Congressional action to stop the coercive influence of the U.S. Department of Education. Upon introduction of her standalone bill, Rep. Roby said she hoped to see the legislative language once again included in the overall education reauthorization and reform bill."
Alabama gets positive publicity in airline magazine
Montgomery Advertiser (Benn 6/17) "Alabama is making quite a splash as a result of an article in a Delta Air Lines magazine that lavishes praise on a state that has made dramatic positive strides in recent years. The 44-page profile, titled "Alabama" across the top of the Birmingham skyline, traces the state's rapid economic ascent from cotton to cars, from textiles to technical marvels, and much more. Geared toward domestic and international air travelers, especially those with financial clout, Sky magazine reaches millions of readers every year as passengers stretch out for long flights and look for something interesting to read.
"Placement in the June issue cost public and private entities thousands of dollars, but there were few, if any, complaints, especially after supporters took a gander at the finished product. 'Wow!' was the word used by U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, when asked for an opinion on the story as she took her seat aboard a commuter jet about to head home from Atlanta on June 6. Roby said her congressional colleagues have been telling her how much they enjoyed it, too, one saying: 'Hey, I just read this great article about what's going on in Alabama.'
"This kind of positive publicity for our state is invaluable," Roby said. "We all know that major progress is happening in Alabama, but I'm glad that story is being told worldwide." Many state and local leaders have been involved in supporting the "Delta Sky Project," as it's called, but most of the credit has been directed toward Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. Canfield's vision was to produce something so special that readers unfamiliar with Alabama's amazing transformation will take another look - especially those involved in industrial development and, perhaps, looking for an ideal location to consider."