Automotive Suppliers Applaud Passage of Omnibus Appropriations Bill: Industry Initiatives Garner Critical Funding for 2005 - aftermarketNews

Automotive Suppliers Applaud Passage of Omnibus Appropriations Bill: Industry Initiatives Garner Critical Funding for 2005

The fiscal 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, approved by Congress on Nov. 20, includes several measures supported by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). These measures will aid in the fight against noncompliant automotive parts; provide additional funding for MEP centers that work one on one with medium and small-sized automotive suppliers to boost competitiveness; and grant automotive suppliers and other employers the flexibility to hire international graduates of American universities.

From MEMA Industry News

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — The fiscal 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, approved by Congress on Nov. 20, includes several measures supported by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). These measures will aid in the fight against noncompliant automotive parts; provide additional funding for MEP centers that work one on one with medium and small-sized automotive suppliers to boost competitiveness; and grant automotive suppliers and other employers the flexibility to hire international graduates of American universities.

The omnibus spending bill (H.R. 4818), which sets the federal budget for fiscal year 2005, included additional funding for two new positions at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance. These new positions at NHTSA will be dedicated to enforcement actions against noncompliant vehicle products.

“U.S. automobile parts manufacturers are facing a growing tide of imports of motor vehicle products that do not meet U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS),” said Ann Wilson, MEMA vice president of government affairs. “These noncompliant imports unfairly compete against the products of legitimate U.S. manufacturers and, more important, pose a serious and escalating risk to highway safety and to the American public. Many of these imported noncompliant products are manufactured to precisely mirror legitimate products that comply with FMVSS,” she explained.

MEMA worked closely with Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.) and his staff to draft and advance this request and also garnered additional support for this issue from Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Wilson noted. “Rep. Knollenberg was the leading advocate in the U.S. House for the additional funding required to help crack down on noncompliant auto parts,” she said. “MEMA and its members thank him for his leadership on this issue and his commitment to keeping these hazardous parts off U.S. highways. MEMA also extends its thanks to the Senate members who worked diligently to ensure the provision’s adoption in the final bill.”

The omnibus bill also extends funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a federal-state-private network that works with small and medium-sized manufacturers to help them adopt and use the latest and most efficient technologies, processes and business practices. MEP will receive $109 million, an increase of $69.4 million over the administration’s budget request and the amount necessary to keep all MEP centers open.

“MEMA was proud to assist in the effort to restore funding for the critical MEP program and served as a signatory to several letters delivered to the White House and House and Senate members,” Wilson said. “Again, Rep. Knollenberg served as the leading champion on this concern and ensured that the manufacturing sector’s voice was heard in Washington. MEMA thanks him and the other congressional supporters of the MEP language for their efforts on behalf of small- and medium-sized manufacturers.”

H1-B relief and L visa provisions also were included in the omnibus appropriations bill, revising immigration laws to give employers more flexibility to hire international graduates of U.S. universities. “Congress clearly understood the importance of having access to U.S.-educated talent as a matter of competitiveness for U.S. employers,” Wilson said. “While there are many people who contributed to the success of this message, we are particularly grateful to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) who championed this bill, and Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who were particularly mindful of the employee protections and reinstating the education and training programs,” she added.

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