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AEM hosted a virtual briefing for dozens of national and trade reporters to discuss current federal infrastructure proposals and their potential impact on the $288 billion equipment manufacturing industry. The briefing featured AEM President Dennis Slater, AEM Infrastructure Vision 2050 Taskforce Chair and Vermeer Corporation President and CEO Jason Andringa, and AEM Infrastructure Vision 2050 Taskforce Vice-Chair and Husco International CEO, Austin Ramirez.

Infrastructure has been all the buzz on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, as negotiations continue on a number of infrastructure proposals from the White House and Congress. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had floated a June 7 deadline for an infrastructure deal but later walked back that timing after negotiations continued to stay afloat among congressional leaders and the Biden-Harris administration. And earlier this month, President Joe Biden even went as far as considering other pay-fors beyond a corporate tax rate increase, signaling his appetite to strike a deal with Republicans who are strongly against it.

During the virtual event, Slater, Andringa, and Ramirez offered their perspectives on what infrastructure legislation could look like and how it would potentially benefit the equipment manufacturing industry and its 2.8 million men and women. The executives discussed the multiple infrastructure proposals, the industry’s infrastructure policy priorities, and its call to action to lawmakers to act on this generational opportunity.

Austin Ramirez on the prospects of bipartisan infrastructure legislation:

“This bill needs to be bipartisan. There's bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people. A bipartisan bill will be better than one that is written solely by one party. I think there's no reason for this not to be a bipartisan piece of legislation that passes. Now, time will tell if that's an overly optimistic view, but if there's anything that can pass in the current political environment on a bipartisan basis, it's infrastructure, and I certainly hope they are able to achieve that.

“There's nothing that should be a ‘poison pill’ in infrastructure legislation. We certainly don't want to see a big increase in corporate taxes that would make the U.S. economy less competitive, but I don't think there's anything that we should rule out. If a bill is passed on a bipartisan basis, I'm confident that it will strike a reasonable balance between taxes and spending and pay-fors for a bill that will really move America forward.”

Jason Andringa on how infrastructure should be defined:

“I do think it's important that we be very open that infrastructure is more than just roads and bridges. It’s fiber optic, it's water and sewer, it's electrical infrastructure, it's natural gas infrastructure, all of that is important. It's the infrastructure for this next wave of electric vehicles and for smart roads. To me, that is all infrastructure.

“From my perspective, I think it’s also very important to think about climate resiliency as part of infrastructure. The science and data are quite clear. Climate change is occurring, and hurricanes are becoming more prevalent and stronger. Like I mentioned earlier, we got hit by a derecho in Iowa last year. Look at the drought and the risk of fire in the Western United States right now. That is looking dire. So, infrastructure also needs to be investing in our infrastructure in a way that will make it more resilient to an increased frequency and intensity of storms and other natural disasters going forward.”

Dennis Slater on how bipartisan infrastructure legislation could help the equipment manufacturing industry:

“Equipment manufacturers hate uncertainty. So, what you also create by getting an infrastructure bill passed is knowing what the investment will be, and manufacturers will know they have that market certainty. They can hire, they can invest in staff. I think that helps the employment aspect of infrastructure. You invest in the communities that you're in. The market certainty that would come from this legislation is critical to the rural communities our members operate in, not just the fact that we get more business. Ultimately, it will make the entire U.S. economy more competitive, which is also important to that equation.”

Some of the answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

If you have questions or are a reporter and would like to submit a new media inquiry, contact AEM's Katrina Bishop at [email protected].

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