Bipartisan Manufacturing Innovation Legislation Advances in House Just Prior to Congress Adjourning for August Recess

On July 25, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology passed H.R. 2996, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act.  The bill, with amendments, passed by voice vote. It will now need to be voted on by the full U.S. House of Representatives. The companion bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 1468) was passed out of committee in April, but still needs to be voted on by the full Senate as well.

The RAMI bill is a critical piece of legislation that would authorize the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). As a public-private partnership, the NNMI would accelerate manufacturing innovation in technologies with commercial applications in several industries by establishing multiple centers throughout the United States, each addressing one technical focus area. Unlike other federally funded programs, which focus on basic research, the NNMI aims to bridge the gap from basic research to product development and commercialization.

The passage of the RAMI bill by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee was a major step forward as the legislation progresses through Congress to become law. IPC was very encouraged that the RAMI bill passed the committee by voice vote, which will hopefully give it the momentum it needs to pass the full House of Representatives before the end of the year. IPC commends Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, for bringing the legislation before the committee for a vote. Furthermore, IPC applauds Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY) and Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) for their leadership as the chief sponsors of the RAMI bill and their efforts to address manufacturing innovation in a bipartisan manner.

More federal investment in manufacturing innovation is critical to growing manufacturing, which is a top policy priority for IPC. IPC strongly urges prompt passage of the RAMI bill after Congress returns in the fall.  IPC will work with Senate and House Leadership and meet key Members of Congress to garner support for final passage of the bill.

If Congress fails to pass the RAMI bill, IPC expects that the Administration will continue to establish innovation centers through existing funding from Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Energy (DoE) programs as has been done thus far with the first four NNMI centers that were established:

  1. America Makes: National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (3-D printing) in Youngstown, OH
  2. Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Raleigh, NC
  3. Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Detroit, MI
  4. Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation Institute in Chicago, IL

The Administration’s plans to continue to move forward in establishing NNMI centers, with or without Congress passing the RAMI bill, is evident with the recently released DoD Request for Information (RFI) for potential future NNMI center technology focus areas. The purpose of the RFI was to solicit information from industry and academia as the DOD considers technical focus areas for future NNMI centers. IPC submitted two responses to the RFI on two technical focus areas: flexible hybrid electronics and electronic packaging and reliability.

IPC believes that the DoD plans to launch two additional NNMI centers this year. The centers will be decided through a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) solicitation process for consortia to submit proposals for an award. The date when the BAAs will be released for proposal acceptance is unknown at this time, but it is expected to be soon — possibly within the next couple of months. IPC will continue to monitor the DoD and the anticipated BAA(s), and notify IPC’s membership once the BAA(s) is/are released.

More information about the NNMI is available at manufacturing.gov/nnmi.html.  You can also contact Ken Schramko, director of IPC government relations, for information about IPC’s efforts related to the NNMI and the RAMI bill via Kenschramko@ipc.org or +1 202-661-8094.

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