Surprise! House Passes Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation

Dave Johnson

Monday the House of Representatives passed the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (H.R. 2996) (RAMI).

The RAMI bill, part of House Democrats’ Make It In America jobs plan,  was sponsored by Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY) and Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) in August 2013. The bill had 50 Democrat and (remarkably) 50 Republican co-sponsors. The Senate version of RAMI, (S. 1468) was introduced at the same time by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). If the RAMI bill is not filibustered by Senate Republicans it will be signed by President Obama.

RAMI will create a network of regional institutes across the country, along the lines of the “manufacturing hub” idea that the Obama administration has advocated. According to Rep. Kennedy’s office, each institute will be “focused on a unique technology, material, or process relevant to advanced manufacturing. Comprised of local industry, academia and other stakeholders, the institutes would work to (1) expand research and development, (2) close the gap between R&D and commercialization of products, (3) support small and mid-sized manufacturers, and (4) train a top-tier advanced manufacturing workforce.”

The idea is to help create local manufacturing “ecosystems” that bring together the necessary components for a particular kind of manufacturing come together, so that industry can grow up around them. Like Silicon Valley and digital electronics, each “hub” will have its own specialization. The education system, labs, suppliers, financing and other components can then grow around these hubs until an industry achieves the scale necessary to become a dominant player in that area.

The government will provide up to an initial $600 million investment in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). However, in a concession to Republicans the government is prohibited after 7 years from providing any funding to help American manufacturing; the institutes must arrange for private-sector funding.

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released a statement on the passage of RAMI,

“Last night’s vote on H.R. 2996 to authorize a national network of manufacturing institutes was an important Make It In America priority, and I want to thank Rep. Joe Kennedy for his leadership in working across the aisle to achieve this victory for America’s manufacturers. Fostering innovation that leads to new products and opportunities will help the private sector create good jobs here at home that will grow our middle class. I hope House Republicans will allow other Make It In America priorities to reach the Floor for consideration and that the Senate will act on this legislation soon.”

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