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Last week, three dozen AEM member company executives, members of AEM’s senior leadership team and the association’s Advocacy Team met with more than 50 lawmakers through video and conference calls for the 2020 AEM Washington Fly-In.

Ordinarily, AEM’s volunteer leaders gather in Washington, D.C. each September to learn about the issues that impact equipment manufacturers and to visit with lawmakers and their staffs on Capitol Hill. But because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event was held virtually.

AEM’s Advocacy Team put together an interactive, informative, and influential program that allowed participants to share their personal perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing their companies, while also advocating for the industry’s policy priorities. Highlights from the 2020 AEM Washington Fly-in included a virtual meeting with Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), and Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Rep. Sharice Davis (D-Kan.), Rep. Glen Thompson (R-Pa.), Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), and Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.).

“Despite the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, dedicated volunteer leaders carved out time in their schedules to advocate on behalf of the equipment manufacturing industry,” said Kip Eideberg, AEM’s senior vice president of government and industry relations. “We appreciate members of Congress and their staff taking the time to connect with our member companies and discuss the essential role equipment manufacturing plays in building, powering, and feeding our country, and the indispensable role it will play in powering the economic comeback.” 

During the virtual meetings, member company executives and AEM staff urged lawmakers to pass the one-year extension to the 2015 FAST Act, included in the Continuing Resolution (CR). While the CR buys Congress another year to pull together a multi-year infrastructure bill, lawmakers need to understand the importance of getting this done as soon as possible next year. AEM will continue to keep up the pressure on both the House and the Senate to pass a comprehensive infrastructure package in 2021.

Other policy priorities discussed with lawmakers and their staff included the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), opening up more markets for trade and investment, training and retaining the next generation of workers, as well as implementing a national manufacturing strategy (an effort that AEM has been leading in partnership with Senator Gary Peters of Michigan).

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