A group of Democrats in the U.S. Senate are attempting to rally bipartisan support for a legislative umbrella containing dozens of bills designed to strengthen the manufacturing sector and create jobs in the industry.
Called the Manufacturing Jobs for America Initiative, the effort packages 40 bills, ranging from the Skills Gap Strategy Act to the Make It in America Tax Credit Act. Several of the proposed bills already have bipartisan support, said Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, who stressed the urgency of passing the measure.
"There are too many Americans still looking for work for Congress to continue to waste time lurching from crisis to crisis," he said in a statement. "Manufacturing can power our economic recovery, but Congress needs to do its part to see that potential realized."
The proposed bills were submitted by more than a dozen senators from around the country and focus on four themes:
- Strengthening the manufacturing workforce;
- Opening markets in other countries;
- Encouraging growth of the manufacturing sector;
- Expanding access to capital.
Job creation is the thrust of the initiative, the senators say. Workers employed in manufacturing earn 22 percent more in annual pay and benefits than the average worker in other industries, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Furthermore, every new manufacturing job created adds another 1.6 jobs to the service economy, NAM says.
"The manufacturing sector is still struggling to recover from the 2.3 million jobs lost during the difficult recession of 2008 and 2009," said NAM President Jay Timmons in a statement. "A growth agenda that includes some of the bills that are a part of the Manufacturing Jobs for America effort is key to creating an environment to encourage job creation."
Several of the bills promote education and training. One bill, the Community College to Career Fund, would allocate $8 billion to facilitate training between two-year institutions and businesses. Another, the America Works Act, is designed to reduce the skills gap by ensuring that funds earmarked for education and job training by various federal programs are directly tied to the specific needs of manufacturers.
The senators emphasized that the initiative is intended to push such bills through the political gridlock. The initiative is similar to the House of Representatives' Make it in America campaign, which promotes the passage of bills that support manufacturing.
"Now that manufacturing competitiveness legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans in both chambers have an opportunity to work together to move bills forward and pass them into law," said Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer in a statement.