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Oct 11, 2012
The 112th Congress adjourned last month, after having distinguished itself as the least productive legislative session since World War II. Just prior to adjournment, the Senate approved the House-passed continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through late March 2013. The CR includes $520 billion in funding, a 0.6% increase over FY12 funding levels which will be equally spread over all government agencies.
The early end to the session sets up a post-election lame duck showdown over whether and how to avert the fiscal cliff – the year-end deadline for the expiration of almost $400 billion worth of tax cuts (including the Bush-era tax cuts, the payroll tax holiday and the tax extenders) and the triggering of $109 billion in across-the-board spending cuts.
If Congress does nothing, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that the tax increase coupled with the dramatic spending cuts could throw the country into another recession. If Congress extends all or most of the current tax rates and cancels the automatic spending cuts, it would add to an already out-of-control deficit. An approach somewhere in between is the more likely scenario, although the specifics on that package depend in large part on who gets elected in November.
Commerce Re-launches Manufacturing Web Site
With the re-launch of its Manufacturing.gov web site, the Commerce Department intends to create a “one-stop shop” advanced manufacturing portal for news and resources on programs underway in federal agencies with science and technology missions. The site offers information on federal programs; manufacturing data and trends; upcoming manufacturing events; and agency and organization partners. A link to AMT’s web site is included on the site.
Administration Officials Visit IMTS 2012
IMTS 2012 provided an unparalleled opportunity for numerous government officials and staff to learn about the latest innovations in manufacturing technology. Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank spoke about the importance of manufacturing on the AMT Manufacturing Stage and cut the ribbon on opening day. Dr. Blank also toured the Emerging Technology Center, where two of the featured technologies, Additive Manufacturing and MTConnect, are part of the just-announced National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), a new pilot project built on the type of private-public collaboration recommended in AMT’s Manufacturing Mandate. The NAMII will cut the ribbon on its Youngstown, Ohio, facility on September 27.
Mike Molnar, Chief Manufacturing Officer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), also spoke on the stage. Mr. Molnar is Director of the new interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO), which oversees the NAMII pilot as part of a larger effort to establish a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) proposed by the administration earlier this year. Mr. Molnar and several colleagues from NIST were at IMTS over the course of the week to visit with exhibitors and research what manufacturing technologies might be good candidates for a future innovation institute.
Dr. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency in the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and Adele Ratcliff, the Director of OSD ManTech, (both AMNPO agency partners) toured the show to gain a perspective on how their roles can positively influence American manufacturing. Dr. Hogan oversees a more than $900 million annual energy efficiency policy, program and research portfolio including industrial, buildings and vehicle technologies, along with Federal energy management. The Defense Department’s ManTech program develops technologies and processes for the affordable, timely production and sustainment of defense systems by developing, maturing and transitioning key manufacturing technologies.
Steve Olsen, Select USA’s Executive Director met with AMT staff while attending IMTS to get a better understanding of the government resources necessary to increase manufacturing investment in the United States. Select USA, a new agency at the Department of Commerce, was created to showcase the United States as the world’s premier business location and to provide easy access to federal-level programs and services related to business investment.
The administration officials who came to IMTS were attentive and inquisitive, signaling their interest and willingness to learn about what drives American manufacturing in today’s global market. AMT staff is following up on the visits to make sure that the experience of attending IMTS and the information shared are not lost in business as usual back in Washington.