WASHINGTON (May 12, 2011)—United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard was among those who testified at a May 11 hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on “Manufacturing Our Way to a Stronger Economy.”
The same day as the hearing, Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., introduced the American Infrastructure Investment Fund Act of 2011. The bill would establish the “American Infrastructure Investment Fund.”
The legislation would authorize the fund to receive $5 billion in both fiscal year 2012 and fiscal year 2013.
The main object of the fund would be to invest in projects that provide measurable improvements to the economic competitiveness of the U.S., according to the bill summary from Senate Commerce.
Rockefeller said that stimulating the manufacturing sector was crucial to re-establishing America's economic strength and global standing.
Under the bill's provisions, the fund's executive director would publish within one year of enactment an investment prospectus specifying the fund's priorities and strategic focus. The executive director would be required to update the prospectus every two years.
The fund would be authorized to make direct loans to eligible funding recipients, including non-federal government agencies, corporations, partnerships and joint ventures. The loans could total up to 70 percent of any eligible project's cost, and the interest rates would be set by the benchmark on marketable Treasury securities, according to the summary.
There would be annual, semiannual and biannual reports on the fund's effectiveness, including an annual audit by an independent public accounting firm and an annual performance evaluation by the comptroller general, the summary said.
Gerard and Stephanie Burns, chairman of Dow Corning Corp., expressed support for any reasonable legislation that would stimulate U.S. manufacturing.
“We know that forward-looking government policies are essential to encouraging innovative, eyes-on-the-future companies to take the risks necessary for success,” Burns said. “Business and government must work together to lead the economic transformation to a growing and exporting manufacturing base.”
The nation's economic problems run far deeper than even the recession that began in 2007, according to Gerard.
“The health of the economy, the success of our people and our national security are inextricably tied to a vibrant and innovative manufacturing sector,” he said. “We must revive U.S. manufacturing as a clear centerpiece of our nation's economic and security strategy.”