It’s become a familiar site in the halls of Congress every year: members of the Forging Industry Association attending FIA’s Lobby Day and meeting with members of Congress to discuss issues of concern to the forging industry.
This year’s event took place April 2-3. By all accounts, it was among the most successful to date. Nineteen FIA members from all across the country (Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, Connecticut, Indiana, South Carolina, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin were represented) had 45 meetings with individual Representatives and Senators and their staffs, as well as staff for several key committees and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Beginning at lunch on April 2, attendees were briefed on the issues to be discussed, received their individual meeting schedules and fanned out across Capitol Hill. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA 12) and his Chief of Staff were guests at dinner on the first day, which was held at the historic Capitol Hill Club. Rep. Rothfus talked to the attendees following dinner, thanking them for being willing to take time to come to Washington to meet with members of Congress. He spoke eloquently of the privilege he feels in being able to serve as a member of the House of Representatives, and he urged FIA to continue to communicate with elected officials on issues of concern to the industry.
In their meetings on Capitol Hill, Lobby Day participants communicated with lawmakers on four key issues of potential impact on the forging industry: energy policy, the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas regulations (GHG), comprehensive tax reform and regulatory overreach.
On energy policy, FIA pointed out that forgers are uniquely positioned in the energy supply chain, since forging is both energy-intensive and also critical to energy production. As a result, FIA strongly supports an “all of the above” energy policy designed to produce adequate, affordable supplies of natural gas and electricity to make the critical parts needed for every energy sector (oil and gas; shale production; pipelines; nuclear reactors; and geothermal, solar and wind power).
Regarding proposed GHG regulations for power plants, FIA told members of Congress that the EPA’s heavy-handed approach would virtually assure that no new coal-fired power plants could be built, which would increase costs and reduce competitiveness for U. S. forgers. As an alternative, FIA urged support for a legislative solution sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY 1) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Their legislation, HR 3826 and S 1905, would provide a reasonable path forward for the EPA while ensuring that coal would remain a viable source of energy for the future. HR 3826 has passed the House of Representatives, and S 1905 is pending in the Senate.
FIA also supported comprehensive tax reform that would simplify the tax code, lower rates and broaden the tax base, provided that any tax-reform measure treats all manufacturers alike. FIA urged that the retroactive repeal of LIFO should not be part of the tax-reform debate, arguing that repeal of the long-accepted method of accounting for inventories could bankrupt some small companies while doing nothing to reform the tax system.
Finally, the group told Representatives and Senators of their increasing concerns about regulatory overreach from federal agencies. For the past several years, agency after agency has promulgated rule after rule, including the Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Labor Relations Board. FIA gave examples from these and other agencies of regulations that the industry believes are beyond the scope or authority of the issuing agency and are hindering the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers, including forgers.
Working for sound policies to enhance economic growth and avoiding counterproductive policies is hard, thankless work that can seem fruitless at times. But the FIA members who give up time from their businesses each year to come to Washington and lobby on behalf of the forging industry know better. They know that Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
Laurin M. Baker, Founder & President • The Laurin Baker Group, LLC. Washington, D.C. • FIA Washington Representatives
202-393-8525 • email@example.com