State of the Union

In his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday, February 5, President Trump addressed several administration priorities of importance to the U.S. tire manufacturing industry. Touting the strength of the U.S. economy and recent job creation numbers that nearly doubled projections, the president committed to advancing policies aimed at continued growth and job creation, particularly in the manufacturing sector. Major areas of focus included trade and infrastructure investment.

A significant portion of the speech was devoted to trade policy. The president called on Congress to pass the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) to “bring back our manufacturing jobs in even greater numbers.” He also provided an update on negotiations with China and expressed “great respect” for Chinese President Xi Jinping, indicating the two countries are working toward a new trade deal focused on “real structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.”

President Trump encouraged Congress to pass his proposed U.S. States Reciprocal Trade Act, which grants the president greater authority to unilaterally levy tariffs. However, this proposal has been met with much skepticism on both sides of the aisle and two competing proposals – the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act and the Trade Security Act – were introduced by separate bipartisan groups of lawmakers in both the House and Senate to rein in the president’s use of national security tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. None of these bills likely has the votes to become law, but they underscore the widely differing views held among the White House and Capitol Hill.  

USTMA is an advocate for free and fair trade affecting the importation of raw materials, equipment and other products necessary for domestic tire manufacturing. Stability and certainty in our supply chain is critical to the competitiveness of U.S. tire manufacturing operations and vital to sustained growth in our domestic operations. As such, we will continue this advocacy with the administration and members of Congress.

President Trump also expressed an eagerness to work with Congress to enact legislation that provides the funding to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. Several influential lawmakers on both side of the aisle expressed disappointment the president did not offer any details or direction on the White House’s vision for that package or how it should be funded. Nonetheless, the reference was received as the green light to proceed with negotiations that many had been expecting.

On February 7, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held its first hearing of the 116th Congress, focused on the state of the country’s infrastructure. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a similar hearing on February 13. USTMA believes it is critical the president and Congress work together to establish sustainable, long-term funding for a significant infrastructure package. USTMA also advocates the use of innovative and sustainable products like rubber modified asphalt, which should play a significant role in rebuilding America’s transportation infrastructure.

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