Q&A: October is Manufacturing Month

With U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley


Q: Why do you push policies to help strengthen U.S. manufacturing?


A: A robust manufacturing sector supports good-paying, high-quality jobs. For 245 years, the pioneering spirit of the American people has propelled the United States to soaring heights of innovation and prosperity, anchored by top of the line manufacturing that helps diversify our economic strength, from agriculture to renewable energy, construction and medicine. In communities across the country, our spirit of enterprise, paired with an unstoppable work ethic, fosters a thriving manufacturing base, producing high-quality goods and services for consumers around the world and creating good-paying jobs that support U.S. households and grow the local tax base. During the once-a-century pandemic, America’s manufacturers answered an urgent call to produce consumer goods, medical supplies and more, reminiscent of a wartime effort with all hands on deck. As the economy recovers, disruptions to the supply chain and labor force shortages are challenging growth and productivity. At my 99 county meetings, one of the most common concerns I hear from employers is the widening gap between job openings and workers available to fill them. The need for employees is a clear and urgent need for so many businesses in Iowa, from the skilled trades to entry level positions. As a member of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, I support workforce education and training programs to help workers advance their careers and businesses to grow, thrive and serve their customers. 


At the policymaking tables in Washington, I pursue tax, trade, antitrust and intellectual property policies to help give U.S. businesses the best possible competitive advantage. For example, from the Senate Judiciary Committee I’ve led bipartisan efforts to protect American intellectual property (IP), curb data thieves from stealing lucrative high-tech secrets and sensitive information and crack down on counterfeit merchandise that harm U.S. manufacturers and put consumer safety at risk. America also needs enforceable international trade agreements to prevent forced technology transfers, anticompetitive subsidies and state-sanctioned IP theft that undermine America’s competitiveness. I’m co-sponsoring bipartisan reforms to prevent abuse of Section 232 tariffs that can lead to harmful retaliatory tariffs on farmers and manufacturers. Competitive tax regimes for U.S. corporations and small businesses help create jobs, boost wages and cultivate growth and expansion. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act I helped steer in 2017 to President Trump’s desk created the pro-growth foundation that added nearly 500,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States. The historic USMCA trade agreement was another big boost to U.S. manufacturing. That was before COVID-19 reached our shores and tapped the brakes on the best economic expansion in a half-century. Instead of embracing these pro-growth tax policies that work, the Biden administration wants to raise taxes that would choke capital investment, the lifeblood for manufacturing, entrepreneurism and innovation in America.


Q: What’s your message to Iowans during national manufacturing month?


A: We need to toot our own horn more often. The two words that best encapsulate Iowa’s workforce are quality and productivity. At my 99 county meetings, I make a point to include stops at local manufacturers and factory floors so that I hear what’s on the minds of employers and workers. This year 19 of my 99 county meetings were held in local manufacturing facilities. Before opening up for a Q&A with workers, I take a tour of the business to learn more about their work and the manufacturing processes and products. Without exception, I’m impressed with the people who are producing state of the art equipment and products in our local communities. The craftsmanship, work ethic and high-tech expertise reinforce what I’ve long known – Iowa doesn’t brag enough about its workforce and industry. From a business in Chickasaw County that offers full sheet metal fabrication and engineering services to a drilling equipment manufacturer in Clarke County, an electronic product manufacturer in Linn County and a world class foundry in Union County, the success of these manufacturers depends on the technicians, engineers, and skilled trades people who deliver top-notch craftsmanship to produce high-quality products that industries around the world depend upon, from mining to aerospace, agriculture, construction and the military, including specialized equipment used for the presidential helicopter, Marine One. This is all happening in our own backyard.


Before I was elected to Congress, I worked for a decade on the factory floor and punched a clock as a card-carrying union member. These manufacturing jobs are the backbone of America’s manufacturing base that build strong families, strong communities and a strong nation. As our manufacturing sector innovates with advanced technology, it’s more important than ever for job training to keep pace with growth and opportunity. If Washington gets its act together, there’s even more growth on the horizon. I supported the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill that would make crucial investment in Iowa’s roads, bridges, waterways, airports and rural broadband. If enacted into law, Iowa’s manufacturing sector and workforce would be even busier for the next decade and beyond.


October is National Manufacturing Month.