2021 is Off to a Fast Start for Manufacturing: Here’s What Happened in January
Newly-elected President Joe Biden has had a busy first few weeks in office. He’s issued 24 executive orders so far, with several more on the way. And although this level of executive governance is common for an incoming leader, what’s unprecedented is Biden’s specific focus on manufacturing.
Roughly a half-dozen of the Executive Orders touch manufacturing — some, like Executive Order 14005, target manufacturing specifically; others, like Executive Order 14002, touch industry tangentially. In either case, it’s clear that the new administration is focused on domestic manufacturing.
A quick start for the new administration
Campaigning on a Made in America platform, President Biden made his intent to re-shore and redevelop American manufacturing clear. Now, it appears he’s taking the critical first steps to fulfilling the core tenants of his comprehensive Made in America plan:
- Buy American (federal investment in manufacturers)
- Make it in America (incentives, resources, and financing)
- Innovate in America (federal investment in research and development)
- Invest in All of America (federal investment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)
- Stand Up for America (pro-American tax and trade strategy)
- Supply America (supply chain and reshoring efforts)
Since inauguration, the President signed several executive orders supporting his campaign promise. First, A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain, is a strong step toward re-shoring supply chains, using COVID-19 vaccine deployment as a foothold. It’s a clear focus on his Supply America promise. Following, Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers, is a direct addressment to his Invest in All of America tenant.
In addition to these more direct executive orders, Biden also passed Protecting Worker Health and Safety, an order aimed at safeguarding American workers through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic and beyond with new protections for both essential and nonessential workers. Finally, the Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis executive order will position industry under standards to help reach carbon-neutral goals over the next three decades. These orders help fuel the Buy American and Make it in America tenants.
Manufacturing as a long-term priority
The rapid-fire issuance of executive orders may seem like a quick fix to appease the manufacturing base that supported Biden during his campaign — but the scope of these executive orders signals exactly the opposite. Biden’s focus on manufacturing is forward-thinking and urgent, and he’s already spoken at-length about the long-term prospects of revitalizing American manufacturing for the future.
Despite these executive orders and those set to come, manufacturing needs more to realize the advanced future Biden campaigned on. Executive governance is a first step, not a panacea. As cabinet members reach confirmation, the real work will begin in various departments, including the Departments of Energy, Labor, State, Transportation, and countless other committees and bureaus.
Manufacturing is at a pivotal moment: fully entrenched in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, coming out of a devastating pandemic, with a new federal administration behind it. If the pieces fit together and things continue to progress as they have in January, it could be a monumental year ahead — or four years ahead — for domestic manufacturing.