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The America COMPETES Act will help businesses and workers make it in America

When Congress enacted the bipartisan infrastructure law in November, it was the culmination of a years-long process to initiate the repair, replacement, or upgrading of critical infrastructure networks in our country. That legislation also represented the long-sought achievement of a large component of the Make It In America agenda for jobs and opportunity developed and supported by many House Democrats. This week, Congress is about to take a big step forward toward the enactment of the remainder of that agenda with House consideration of the America COMPETES Act of 2022.

I first launched the Make It In America plan in 2010 when our economy was still recovering from the Great Recession, and I worked with my House Democratic colleagues to refine and update it in the years that followed. In 2016, our party added Make It In America to its platform, declaring that “one of the best ways to innovate, prosper, and create good-paying jobs is to make more in America, which is why we firmly support American manufacturing with a ‘Make It In America’ plan.”

The Make It In America plan has always focused on collecting the best ideas from both sides of the aisle and turning them into enactable policies that would benefit American businesses and workers. We convened meetings with business leaders, labor advocates, economists, local government leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and educators to figure out how Congress could best help people Make It In America — that is, to help more workers ‘make it’ in our country by enhancing the ability of American businesses to make the goods and services that America and the world needs in the twenty-first century.

To identify those great ideas we did a lot of listening. We held hearings on Capitol Hill and crossed the country to visit with those who were already getting the job done. In Indianapolis, Reps. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), and I met with city officials on their infrastructure challenges, including the transition to electric buses and the need to expand the city’s airport. In Ohio, Rep. Marcy Kaptur hosted me and Rep. Barragan for a roundtable at an innovative vocational school to hear about how labor and business can work together to tailor skills-training to help workers in legacy industries transition into higher-tech fields with a job waiting for them. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and I visited a manufacturing outreach center hosted by the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire, and then we sat down with leaders from the local Chamber of Commerce there to hear about promoting entrepreneurship. On that same visit, I joined Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) in Madison to see American innovators at work at a university-affiliated technology park for biomedical startups.

When I visited Las Vegas with Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) in 2017, we heard directly from local leaders about the need for federal infrastructure investment. In Peoria, Ill., Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and I learned what educators, employers, and community leaders need from Congress to close gaps in education access so that more kids from more diverse backgrounds can find success in STEM and other fields. Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and I, during a visit with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) in Kansas City, saw firsthand how entrepreneurs there were collaborating to share innovative ideas for accessing capital, growing their businesses, and achieving scale.

The Make It In America agenda is a product of those many conversations. In 2018 and 2020, we ran on these bipartisan and effective policies that came directly from listening to Americans — and won the House majority both times because we promised to deliver on them. President Biden and Vice President Harris won in 2020 in no small part because their economic platform mirrored what we’ve put forward under the banner of Make It In America — policies that resonate with Americans across party lines, regardless of ideology, because people across blue, red, and purple states recognize that making it in America transcends partisanship.

Make It In America has three core components: education and skills training, infrastructure, and entrepreneurship. In November, Congress enacted the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, putting in motion many of the Make It In America infrastructure policies we identified. Now, with the American COMPETES Act of 2022, we are about to build on that victory by passing legislation addressing the other two core components of Make It In America and making our supply chains more resilient at the same time.

The America COMPETES Act, sponsored by Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and with the participation of ten other committees and their chairs and members, creates opportunities for American workers to access in-demand skills, train for the most competitive jobs in the twenty-first century economy, and help researchers and innovators become entrepreneurs and job-creators. This legislation will help us maintain and secure our lead in the race to lead the clean-energy economy. Moreover, it will strengthen our national security by shoring up our supply chains and ensuring that we can build in America the semiconductors and microchips that our industries need to lead the world in advanced manufacturing. Indeed, back in 2010 and 2011, when I first launched the Make It In America plan, I spoke about the importance of making sure that we could build “everything from computer chips to precision optics to photovoltaic cells” in our country.

This week, the House is taking up the America COMPETES Act of 2022. We have a real opportunity to come together and deliver bipartisan results For the People, because many of the ideas are the result of bipartisan bills included in the COMPETES Act, including ones sponsored by Republicans and passed by the House this Congress with bipartisan support. The Senate has already passed legislation similar to the America COMPETES Act of 2022 on a bipartisan basis. Hopefully, the difference between the Senate and the House can be resolved quickly, as we did with the infrastructure law last year. If we can do so, it will be a major victory for our country, for our economic competitiveness, and for the ability of all of our businesses and workers to Make It In America.

Steny Hoyer is the House majority leader.

Tags America COMPETES Act Andre Carson Cheri Bustos China Dina Titus Eddie Bernice Johnson Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Jimmy Panetta Joe Biden Marcy Kaptur Mark Pocan Ron Kind Steny Hoyer Technology

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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