Featured Image

Year-end victories shape 2020 agenda

Congress finished 2019 with a burst of activity, narrowly averting a government shutdown and moving the long-debated and delayed U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) one step closer to ratification. There was also progress on phase one of a...
Jan 10, 2020

Congress finished 2019 with a burst of activity, narrowly averting a government shutdown and moving the long-debated and delayed U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) one step closer to ratification. There was also progress on phase one of a U.S.-China trade deal, setting up additional negotiations in 2020.


There is nothing like a deadline to spur Washington into action. With mere hours left before the government ran out of funding, Congress reached a bipartisan agreement on a $1.4 trillion FY20 federal spending package that will fund the government through September 2020. Up until the agreement, Congress had passed zero of the 12 appropriations bills, relying instead on continuing resolutions to fund programs at FY19 levels. In the end, the spending bills were all passed with most programs seeing an increase over FY19 levels.

The package includes $15.2 billion for the Department of Commerce, an increase of $3.8 billion above the FY19 level. Funding for NIST includes a $6 million increase for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnerships. The National Science Foundation was funded at $203 million above the FY19 level for basic research across scientific disciplines to support the development of effective STEM programs. The Labor Department budget increased by $15 million, including $175 million for training programs that utilize the flexible and effective apprenticeship model. A rider to the legislation extended the EXIM Bank for seven years. AMT advocated for the bank’s extension. For additional details on appropriations, visit www.appropriations.senate.gov.


In a major victory for manufacturers, the House approved USMCA, the president’s replacement for NAFTA, in the last days of the session. Ratification of USMCA is one of AMT’s top 2019-20 policy priorities. The trade pact advanced rapidly after concessions were made to Democrats seeking enforcement mechanisms for labor reforms. The implementing legislation now moves to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he will not hold a vote until after the impeachment trial, which will last at least through January.


The office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the United States and China reached an agreement on phase one of a trade deal between the two countries. The agreement comes after a year and a half of tense negotiations that centered on major trade imbalances, including currency manipulation, access to markets, tech transfer, and IP theft.

Details of the pact are still being worked out, but the 15 percent tariffs scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15 on $156 billion in Chinese imports were delayed. In addition, USTR reported that the United States will continue to levy a 25 percent tariff on approximately $250 billion of imported Chinese goods, but tariffs on another $120 billion will be reduced to 7.5 percent. China agreed to buy $200 billion in U.S. goods and up to $40 billion in agricultural products. USTR Robert Lighthizer said he hoped the deal will be signed in January. Visit www.USTR.gov for additional information.


At AMT, we are looking forward to an exciting year ahead in Washington with action on the Manufacturing Mandate-focused areas of innovation, global competitiveness, and Smartforce. Those issues will be vying for lawmakers’ attention as the 2020 elections take centerstage. I’ll be connecting with you as it all unfolds.

Amber Thomas
Vice President, Advocacy
Recent advocacy News
It’s been a rough year in Washington. Partisan divisiveness and party infighting obstructed real legislative work, while domestic and geopolitical unrest necessitated action. Here’s a review of what happened and what’s ahead that will impact manufacturing.
AMT Vice President for Advocacy Amber Thomas reviews activity on Capitol Hill and her work with a bipartisan group to reverse changes enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Job Act that hamper manufacturing innovation and competitiveness.
As manufacturing technology providers, we have the power to make a big impact on the health of our planet. AMT is embarking on a series of articles investigating the issues surrounding sustainable manufacturing.
At AMT’s 2021 MFG Meeting and MTForecast Conference, Nov. 2-5, in Denver, Colorado, Larry Sabato will examine the latest political environment in Washington, D.C., and state capitals. He’ll share his observations and predictions on the 2022 ...
Today, the House approved the $3.5 trillion budget blueprint and set a Sept. 27 deadline to vote on the $550 billion infrastructure bill – days before transportation funding runs out on Oct. 1.
Similar News
By Amber Thomas | Dec 17, 2020

Last month, Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden was elected president, defeating President Donald Trump, the Republican incumbent. In Congress, the GOP made significant gains in the House of Representatives, and the Senate’s majority will be...

3 min
By Amber Thomas | Mar 04, 2020

What progress can manufacturers expect from Washington in 2020, especially given that it’s an election year? AMT provides input on issues that support R&D and innovation; increase global competitiveness; and build a Smartforce as dictated by...

3 min
By Amber Thomas | Dec 12, 2019

The president signed a continuing resolution funding government programs and agencies through Dec. 20. Funding would have run out on Nov. 21 without the stopgap resolution. The extra time probably isn’t enough for lawmakers to pass all 12 appropriation...

3 min