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August 23, 2017 | by Kerrie Rushton

Taking a Seat at the Table:

MSCI’s advocacy team and members in Washington

“We’re at a critical time in our nation’s history,” said Lee Kushman, vice president and general manager at Pennsylvania Steel Co., while reflecting the state of U.S. politics. “We stand on the precipice of major policy changes that will affect our entire industry. We’ve got to take a seat at the table. It’s now or never.”

The Metals Service Center Institute’s advocacy team—Ann D’Orazio, Julie Cram, and President and CEO M. Robert Weidner, III—along with several MSCI members recently took a seat at the table by participating in the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) annual fly-in.

Vice President Mike Pence opened the event by outlining President Donald Trump’s priorities, which include addressing the manufacturing skills gap. The vice president said filling jobs in the skilled trades is “increasingly hard” and promised the president is committed to tackling the problem by expanding apprenticeship programs.

Tax Reform: Everything Is on the Table

MSCI’s advocacy team met with key lawmakers and staff, including from the offices of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-SD), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). These four lawmakers will play pivotal roles in federal tax reform negotiations. MSCI said Congress must cut rates for both C-corporations and pass-through organizations and preserve LIFO. With the likely demise of the border adjustable tax (BAT supporter and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) barely mentioned border adjustability in remarks at the NAM fly-in), LIFO is threatened. MSCI will continue to argue for LIFO preservation in Capitol Hill meetings this summer with the LIFO Coalition.

MSCI member company representatives also participated in the fly-in. O’Neal Industries’ Vice President of Tax and Legislative Affairs Ron Travis explained, “Republican or Democrat, federal policymakers understand our tax code is uncompetitive. But in order to get rates down, Congress is going to have to make some very tough decisions. By getting to Washington and telling our story, we can help them make the best decisions. That’s why MSCI’s advocacy work is so important.” 

Trade and Infrastructure Policies for the Entire Supply Chain

MSCI’s advocacy team also discussed trade and infrastructure. D’Orazio and Cram met with representatives from House Aluminum Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Suzan DelBene’s (D-WA) office to discuss NAFTA modernization and the steel and aluminum 232 investigations.

In all its meetings, MSCI argued that the administration must consider the entire industrial metals supply chain and must not upset the industry’s important and lucrative trading relationship with Canada and Mexico. “It’s so important that policymakers take the time to fully understand the impact that Chinese overcapacity has had on U.S. producers,” said Harry Kiskaddon, president of Arconic Brazing, Commercial Transportation and Industrial Solutions. “It’s also important that the Trump administration consider the downstream effects of any proposed Section 232 remedies. We need healthy supply and healthy demand. I was pleased to carry this message to Congress and even more pleased to hear that lawmakers are engaging on this issue with the Trump administration. We have a great opportunity here, but we need to get it right.”

On infrastructure, the MSCI team met with Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN), a member of the House Energy and Water and Appropriations committees. The congressman’s staff members said they are optimistic about reaching a deal to make large new infrastructure investments after Congress tackles tax reform.      

To learn more about MSCI’s policy agenda, please see the Metal Matters section of our website.

Read more on current events and politics affecting the future of North American manufacturing in Connecting the Dots.