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AFS Applauds Introduction of Made in America Act

In June, the Made in America Act, strengthening Buy America requirements, was introduced in both chambers.

The bill identifies federal programs that fund infrastructure projects not currently subject to Buy America standards and would ensure that materials used in these federal programs, including steel, iron and aluminum, are domestically produced. The federal government spends billions of taxpayer dollars on infrastructure projects not subject to Buy America requirements. The result is taxpayer money is being spent to buy foreign products and equipment.   

When certifying that materials used in construction are “Made in America,” the bill requires the Department of Commerce to ensure that American manufacturers are being supported.  

AFS CEO Doug Kurkul, in applauding the introduction of the Made in America Act by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and Rep. John Garamendi (D-California), noted that “extending Buy America requirements to these additional federal infrastructure programs ensures taxpayer dollars are being used to buy metal castings for critical construction projects.  This is a win-win for American metalcasters, and their workers.”

House Panel Approves Tax Extenders Bill, Rolls Back Increased Estate Tax Three Years Early

On June 20, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019 (H.R. 3301), which would provide disaster relief funding and renew a slew of lapsed and expiring provisions through Dec. 31, 2020, an additional three years.

Among the business tax benefits, the legislation would revive credits for railroad track maintenance for short line railroads, the employer tax credit for paid family and medical leave, biodiesel and renewable diesel, and two-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles, among others.

Traditionally, tax extenders have not been paid for as they are considered extension of current tax policy.  This bill breaks precedence by moving to pay for the tax extenders package by rolling back positive changes to the estate tax, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax that were included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The legislation would prematurely end the $11 million per person estate tax exemption, sending it back down to $5.5 million per person on Dec. 31, 2022, three years early.  

AFS is concerned that this change would negatively affect capital-intensive family-owned foundries and are urging Congress to find another way to help offset the costs of the extenders package. Rolling back the increased exemption more than doubles the number of taxpayers currently hit by the estate tax. AFS joined onto a coalition letter in June with 150 organizations opposing this pay-for to the members of the House Ways and Means Committee. 

USTR Announces Section 301 List 3 Exclusion Process
The office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced its process to allow stakeholders to formally request or object to product exclusions under Section 301 List 3 on $200 billion worth of products, which are facing a 25% tariff as of June 2019 (a 10% tariff initially has been in place since September 2018). A number of iron, steel and aluminum castings are contained on List 3.

Exclusions would be effective for one year following the publication of a final determination in the Federal Register. Companies will have a three-month window for product exclusion applications, with the application period closing on September 30, 2019. USTR also sets follow-up deadlines for responses, stating that any responses or rebuttals of exclusion requests must be received no later than 14 days after that request is formally posted in the USTR docket, and any replies to those follow up responses/rebuttals must be received no later than seven days after that (thus, 21 days after the initial request is posted). 

The notice did not provide any further deadlines or time windows for applications to move through the process.

DOL Issues Revised NLRA Rights Poster for Federal Contractors
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) recently made technical changes to the poster that federal contractors and subcontractors are required to display under Executive Order 13496. The poster informs employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  

The updated poster reflects a new telephone number for the National Labor Relations Board, the agency responsible for enforcing the NLRA.  No other changes or updates were made at this time.

Executive Order 13496 applies only to contracts directly with the federal government and related subcontracts. It does not apply to federally assisted contracts made with non-federal government entities or to private contracts.   

Click here to see this story as it appears in the July 2019 issue of Modern Casting