WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke today at a summit that brought the Democratic Caucus together with top manufacturing executives, labor leaders and other experts from around the nation to discuss the future of domestic manufacturing. The following are Reid’s prepared remarks:
“America’s manufacturing companies and the men and women who work for them are the backbone of the U.S. economy. If we keep the manufacturing sector healthy, we’ll keep our economy and national and security strong and healthy as well. Manufacturing companies and unions have both worked to create and sustain good jobs with good benefits like retirement security, health care and fair working conditions for millions of Americans in every corner of our country.
“So, it is beyond important – it’s crucial – that we work to strengthen the U.S. manufacturing sector. Democrats are committed to working with you to ensure that our economy, infrastructure, government investments and laws afford you the opportunity to compete and succeed both at home and abroad.
“A major step in that direction came recently with the America COMPETES Act. This bill addresses the growing threats to America’s place of worldwide pre-eminence in the fields of science, research and technology. We do that by substantially increasing federal investment in the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, doubling the federal investment for the National Science Foundation, increasing investment for basic research at NASA and other science-related federal agencies, strengthening our math and science teaching workforce and improving math instruction at the elementary and middle school level. This bill is an outstanding and much-needed first step toward ensuring that America retains its competitive edge and our manufacturing sector will succeed in the global marketplace for years to come.
“In order to maintain our competitive edge, we must also turn to the challenge of energy. We need an innovative energy policy that increases the nation’s production and use of renewable fuels, improves the energy efficiency of buildings and products, increases CAFE standards on vehicles, and advances research on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The energy bill the Senate will take up next week will save consumers money, protect them from gas price-gouging, and make our country safer and more economically sound by decreasing our reliance on oil – especially from unstable regions.
“I understand that for the first time in memory auto manufacturers and the UAW are considering supporting an increase in CAFE standards. I haven’t seen all the details yet, but I hope that we can work together to make substantial progress. Producing more efficient vehicles will be good for the industry and America’s security.
“America’s energy policy must put us in position to lead the world in developing the products and technologies of the future before the future gets here. Our economy, our national security and our environment all depend on it. America is a can-do nation. If we make reducing our dependence on oil an urgent national priority, nothing can stop us. We can and should be leading the world in the creation of jobs in the new clean energy economy.
“Let me say a final word about trade. As you all know, the ability to buy and sell products in the global marketplace has a bigger impact on your businesses than ever. This presents great opportunity, but great challenges as well. Democrats are working to ensure that our trade agreements do not allow countries to use abusive labor practices or environmental degradation as a source of comparative advantage; we are working to ensure that our trade agreements do not undercut critical U.S. sectors like beef or the auto industry; and we are considering ways to strengthen U.S. fair trade laws and U.S. trade enforcement efforts.
“We look forward to working very closely with you as this Congress continues to address these vitally important issues. This summit has been so valuable in calling attention to manufacturing and raising attention to the issues important to this critical sector and its workers – but our dialogue and our work with you will certainly not end here. I look forward to working with you to ensure a strong and vibrant manufacturing sector powering America’s future.”