By Frank Lewis
U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) continues to reach across party lines to deal with issues. Portman and U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich), announced Wednesday the official launch of the Senate Auto Caucus. The bipartisan Caucus, co-chaired by Portman and Levin, will provide a forum for senators to exchange ideas and work to improve policy on issues affecting America’s auto industry such as workforce development, regulatory issues, safety, technology, and fuel efficiency. The Caucus hosted a kick-off event on Capitol Hill with auto companies, associations and other groups.
“America’s auto industry employs eight million Americans and drives more than $735 billion into the economy annually,” Portman said. “I’m pleased to join my colleagues in promoting policies that will help ensure the auto industry continues to grow and thrive.”
Portman said the automobile industry historically contributes 3-3.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Of the $1.7 trillion of value added to the U.S. economy by manufacturing in 2011, $76.5 billion came from the motor vehicle and parts industry. Additionally, the auto industry is a significant employer in most states, employing over 10,000 in 47 states and 100,000 in 20 states. Eight million jobs nationwide are directly or indirectly dependent on the auto industry, or about 4.5 percent of total private-sector employment. Leading in innovation, the auto industry employs nearly 10 percent of U.S. engineers and scientists that work in the private sector.
Ohio is a driving force in the automotive industry on a massive scale. Ten different models are produced in six Ohio assembly plants, and in 2012 they produced nearly 1.4 million vehicles. Honda, Jeep, and Ford are among the companies that have invested hundreds of millions in Ohio and earned billions back in world-class vehicle production.
More than $3 billion was committed to investment by 75 automotive industry companies from 2008-2011, as recorded by the Ohio Development Services Agency. More than 9,466 new jobs and 3.23 million square feet of space are anticipated when the projects are completed.
“Manufacturing is the path to the middle class for millions of Americans, and the auto industry is the heart of American manufacturing,” Levin said. “The Auto Caucus will help us stay focused on helping advance the U.S. auto industry renaissance that is so important to millions of families and countless communities across the country.”
The Senate Auto Caucus’ efforts are also supported by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Association of Global Automakers,American Automotive Policy Council, National Automobile Dealers Association, American International Automobile Dealers Association, National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers,Automotive Service Association, Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association, Specialty Equipment Market Association.
The members of the caucus include Sen.’s Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Saxby Chambliss, Joe Donnelly, Dick Durbin, Lindsey Graham, Johnny Isakson, Claire McCaskill, Mitch McConnell, Tim Scott, Jeff Sessions and Debbie Stabenow.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.