By Amber Thomas, AMT Vice President – Marketing, Communications & Advocacy
After two long years, the 2016 Presidential election is history. Donald Trump will be inaugurated in January as the 45th President of the United States. Most predicted a strong victory for Hillary Clinton that could bring with it a change of power in Congress. The results were stunningly different.
Republicans held their majority in the Senate at 51-48. Democrats picked up two seats, far less than the five they needed to gain control. That 51-vote majority, however, is not close to the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster of legislation in the Senate. Cooperation and compromise between the parties is key to action on issues important to manufacturers.
In the House, Democrats made modest gains but not nearly enough to increase their influence over the House agenda. That job remains House Speaker Paul Ryan’s, who sparred with the President-elect during the campaign. It will be interesting to see how long it takes those wounds to heal; but heal they must and the quicker the better.
There’s a lot at stake and not a lot getting done in Washington. This year is shaping up to be the least productive in a decade if legislative action is a measure. Congress passed just 219 bills before summer recess, and 195 were ceremonial. The voters are demanding change. Their frustration showed at the polls when they rejected an experienced Washington insider as their Commander-in-Chief.
Some progress was made last year, but that stopped abruptly once the primary season was underway. Bipartisanship resulted in reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank; a long-term transportation bill; and passages of bonus depreciation, permanent Sec. 179 expensing, and a permanent R&D tax credit. There could be some action in the post-election lame duck session but only on must-pass funding bills. The opportunity to approve the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement has come and gone. Our elected leaders must move at a faster pace and that can’t happen without both parties working together.
Lawmakers returning to Washington have a choice: forge a new culture of collaboration and compromise on Capitol Hill to tackle our toughest challenges OR continue business as usual letting politics get in the way of good governing.
It is imperative that the Trump administration and 115th Congress make peace with the brutal election and get down to work immediately to address issues like repairing our crumbling infrastructure; addressing the skilled labor shortage and high unemployment; reforming our tax, regulatory, trade and immigration policies so that American companies and their workers benefit; and funding the technology research and programs that will boost innovation and drive U. S. competitiveness.
Manufacturers, you have a commanding voice to make positive change in Washington because of the impact you have on economic growth and national security. Join with your colleagues and urge your Members of Congress to put an end to the stalemates and act on issues where meaningful compromise is within reach.
Engagement begins at the polls but doesn’t end there regardless of the victors. Make a New Year’s resolution now to send a congratulatory note when the new Congress convenes in January. You might also include a request to meet and suggest a visit your company. You can be a valuable resource and advisor on issues impacting your company and your industry if you are engaged in the process.
Differences can lead to great compromise, but only when the players come to the table with open ears, open mouths and open minds. We should expect at least that much from our elected leaders.