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CEO DATELINE – Associations respond to SOTU: We want infrastructure

Feb. 6, 2019
By Walt Williams

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President Donald Trump used part of his State of the Union address Tuesday to press for new infrastructure spending, and many associations like what they heard even though the president did not present a plan for turning a proposal into reality.

Increased infrastructure spending was the top policy concern among associations that reacted to Trump’s speech in statements released after the event. Even before the president spoke, some groups were pressing the issue. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off its annual infrastructure summit Tuesday morning.

 “We’re looking for a strong statement on the importance of getting an infrastructure deal done this year, followed by the necessary resources to get the job started in the forthcoming White House budget,” Chamber CEO Tom Donohue said in a speech at the summit. “Likewise, the House and Senate should signal their commitment by also prioritizing infrastructure investment in their budget blueprints, and moving good legislation forward.”

Association of Equipment Manufacturers CEO Dennis Slater also expressed support for new infrastructure spending in a statement released before the address, but mainly urged lawmakers to avoid gridlock now that control of Congress is divided between the two parties.

“Without everyone working together, the American worker and U.S. consumers will bear the brunt of continued D.C. gridlock,” Slater said. “We urge both Republicans and Democrats to find common ground on solutions that will rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, create greater access to free trade, bolster the U.S. agriculture economy, and secure comprehensive tax reform that levels the playing field for our industry in a globally competitive business environment.”

Association leaders also touched on free trade and energy policy in their responses to this year’s SOTU. Below is a roundup of reactions:

Paul Skoutelas, CEO, American Public Transportation Association
“Americans know that investing in projects that improve public transportation and our highways, waterways and bridges will improve their quality of life and help grow their communities for decades to come. Americans are united in their support for infrastructure investment because they recognize the great need—a backlog of more than $90 billion to bring the nation's public transportation systems up to a state of good repair.”

Dave Bauer, CEO, American Road & Transportation Builders Association
“New public opinion research finds that 90 percent of the American people want the Democratic leadership in Congress and President Trump to work together during 2019 to pass legislation to improve roads, bridges and transit systems. When 90 percent of the country agrees on something, it’s a clear call to action.”

Matthew Shay, CEO, National Retail Federation
“We commend the president for his efforts to restore balanced trade relationships, and we hope the U.S. and China will continue to move toward a deal and avoid further escalation. Achieving structural reforms, ending existing tariffs and putting an end to the trade war would provide much-needed certainty and relief for American businesses and families. We encourage the administration to continue to focus on the end goal, and for Congress to restore rather than further neglect its role in trade policy.”

John Smaby, elected president, National Association of Realtors
“Over recent election cycles, voters throughout the country have made clear their desire to see lawmakers secure bipartisan infrastructure reform. The National Association of Realtors® together with our 1.3 million members, understands the critical role infrastructure improvements play in maintaining property values, creating livable neighborhoods and developing communities in which businesses can succeed.”

Chris Spear, CEO, American Trucking Associations
“Tonight President Trump called for a national, bipartisan effort to restore our country's declining infrastructure—and America's truckers are answering that call. A win on this issue will require real investment, not budgetary gimmicks as tried in years past. That is why America's truckers, along with a broad coalition of the business community, have pledged our financial commitment to making this national priority a reality.”

Randall Luthi, CEO, National Ocean Industries Association
“The administration initiated regulatory and tax reforms that are allowing more U.S. companies, including those in the offshore energy industry, to create American jobs, safely produce affordable American energy and compete globally. Recognizing that American energy dominance can only be achieved with a comprehensive all-of-the above energy policy, the administration also initiated a Draft National Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program to maximize access to federal offshore areas. … Finally, NOIA calls on the administration to continue its record-breaking work towards building a robust U.S. offshore wind industry.”

Brian McGuire, CEO, Associated Equipment Distributors
“AED commends President Trump for once again highlighting the decrepit state of our nation’s infrastructure and for calling on lawmakers to provide the resources necessary to rebuild America. With economic growth, quality of life and international competitiveness at stake, further delay is unacceptable.”

Jay Timmons, CEO, National Association of Manufacturers
“Manufacturers’ progress has been built with the tools of tax reform and regulatory certainty, as manufacturers kept our promise to hire workers, raise wages and benefits and invest in equipment and operations. To continue this progress, manufacturers have a very clear and post-partisan agenda: approve the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement, enact lasting, meaningful reforms to our broken immigration system, make an historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure and recruit a new generation of talent to solve the ongoing workforce crisis in manufacturing.”

Patty Long, interim CEO, Plastics Industry Association
“The U.S. plastics industry supports the president’s goal of enacting an infrastructure bill. Waste management and recycling facilities should be considered as a part of any infrastructure package. New recycling technologies exist that both our economy and our environment demand, and these technologies can increase job creation, which is another goal of any infrastructure package. Enhanced recycling and waste management will also help decrease the amount of material that goes to landfill and decrease litter.”

Mike Sommers, CEO, American Petroleum Institute
“We were pleased to hear the President focus on trade. The energy markets of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are highly integrated and interdependent, and the free flow of energy products across North America is part of the reason our industry supports millions of American jobs, strengthens our national security, and helps our companies deliver the energy Americans rely on every day. We urge Congress to approve the USMCA without delay.”

Chip Rogers, CEO, American Hotel &Lodging Association
“Looking forward, we appreciate the President’s focus on rebuilding America’s infrastructure. The lodging industry recognizes how vital modernization of our nation's infrastructure is to a vibrant travel and tourism sector, with hotels generating $167 billion in federal, state, and local taxes, and guests spending $238 billion on transportation, dining, shopping and other activities at local businesses during their stays. We will work with the broader business community and other stakeholders to ensure that the infrastructure plan meets the needs of our industry.”

Outdoor Industry Association (via Twitter)
“Additional tariffs on outdoor products only raise costs for outdoor companies and consumers and hamper innovation and job growth. The US and China must resolve their differences at the negotiating table and remove these harmful taxes.”

Cynthia Sears, president, Infectious Disease Society of America (with David Hardy, chair of the HIV Medicine Association)
“The President’s goal to end the HIV epidemic in the United States within the next 10 years, announced in his State of the Union Address is laudable and critically important to the strength and well-being of our nation. As associations of clinicians and scientists dedicated to the prevention and treatment of HIV and other infectious diseases, we share President Trump’s stated goal and know that it can be achieved through a strong, comprehensive, committed investment of adequate, sustained resources and science-based policies.”