The forging industry stormed Capitol Hill in April, as the FIA sponsored its annual Lobby Day on the 13th and 14th. Participants held 33 meetings with Senators, Representatives and their staffs, including the new Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1), to discuss issues of concern to the forging industry.

The annual event is an important part of FIA’s public policy initiative. Among the issues discussed with members of Congress this year were comprehensive tax reform, workplace development and regulatory burdens.

Since its beginning in 2004, Lobby Day has evolved into a two-day event, beginning with a luncheon briefing on the issues conducted by FIA’s Washington representatives, The Laurin Baker Group. Following the briefing, attendees meet with their respective members of Congress before regrouping for a dinner and guest speaker, who is usually a member of Congress. The activities continue the following day with additional meetings before participants head home.

This year’s guest speaker was Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA 3), who has the distinction of representing the largest number of FIA members of any congressional district. Rep. Kelly is very familiar with the forging industry, and he and his staff often seek FIA’s guidance on issues facing Congress. He is a member of the key Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over all tax and trade issues and is at the center of discussions about comprehensive tax reform.

Regarding tax reform, FIA members pressed Congress to ensure that manufacturing be treated equally regardless of corporate structure. Many forging operations are organized as LLCs, Subchapter S Corporations or Partnerships (so-called “pass-through” entities) that pay income taxes at the individual rates of the owners. As a result, a reduction in rates for only “C” corporations would not help a significant number of U.S. manufacturers, particularly forgers. That message is getting through. Speaker Ryan and new Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX 8) have both expressed support for equal treatment for all types of manufacturing organizations.

On workforce development, Lobby Day participants urged Congress to continue their efforts to modernize and streamline programs designed to provide worker training, including reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006. As part of that reauthorization, FIA supports increased involvement of local businesses in the development of training programs. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA 5), a leader in this effort, met with a group of FIA members to discuss strategy for moving ahead with the reauthorization.

Finally, FIA members discussed several examples of regulatory and administrative actions that it believes are beyond the authority of the issuing agency and are hindering manufacturing competitiveness. Individually, they are troublesome and costly. Collectively, they threaten U.S. manufacturing’s ability to compete globally. These actions are:

  • EPA’s Clean Power Plan (new and existing power-plant emissions rule) – disproportionally hurts heavy energy users such as the steel and forging industry.
  • EPA Ground Level Ozone Proposal – will reduce U.S. GDP by over $1 trillion by 2040.
  • NLRB’s Ambush Election rule – denies employees’ rights to receive information during a union campaign.
  • NLRB’s Micro-Union decision – disrupts the workplace solely to create many bargaining units within the same workforce.
  • Department of Labor’s planned Persuader Rule – limits employers’ access to legal representation and potentially limits trade associations’ ability to provide advice to members.
  • DoL’s proposed mandatory paid sick leave for government contractors – further increases burdens on many small and medium 2nd-tier and 3rd-tier subcontractors.
  • DoL’s proposed overtime expansion – stifles economic growth by forcing employers to restrict employee hours and hire fewer workers.
  • OSHA’s Electronic Recordkeeping – serves no purpose and hurts the perception of manufacturing.

If you weren’t part of FIA’s 2016 Lobby Day in Washington, now is the time to put a note in your calendar for next year. Watch this column for the dates, and add your voice to our industry’s public policy efforts!