Although it has maintained a presence in Washington for two decades, IPC long has resisted calls to join the ranks of other trade groups (and some of its own members) by forming a political action committee.
Apparently lobbying works. IPC announced this week the launch of its own PAC, which will raise money to educate policy makers on issues that affect the electronics manufacturing industry.
The eponymously named PAC will support pro-manufacturing candidates based on their positions on key policy issues, including environment; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education; R&D investment; regulatory reform; and tax, IPC said. The trade group plans to raise money to impact the 2016 elections.
We’ve suggested in this space that the time might be right for IPC to do so. Having experienced (endured?) numerous IPC Capitol Hill Days, the name for the mostly annual trips to Washington to plead the industry’s case for various causes, we’ve seen firsthand how ineffectual a piecemeal program is. Like it or not, the US Congress responds better to cash than complaints.
Over the years, IPC has been effective in getting its members’ needs met in areas such as environmental and chemical reporting, but has been stymied getting traction on the financial side.
It did get the DoD to appoint a representative to address counterfeit parts, advanced technological capabilities, and manufacturing capacity. Given that the military is sourcing more and more parts from companies either primarily based offshore or directly from offshore suppliers, the jury is out as to whether this has helped. Likewise, it’s too early to get excited over last year’s introduction of the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act, a one-time, $600 million investment in a network of regional institutes across the country, each focused on a unique technology, material, or process relevant to advanced manufacturing. While it passed the House, the bill remains bottled up in the Senate.
Outside of that, one highlight of success in Washington was the late 1990s resolution that the printed circuit industry represented a critical industry. We all know how that story ended.
We welcome this new approach to Washington by IPC. While it’s a bit sad that this is what it takes to move the needle these days, putting money in the Members of Congress’ pockets is a not only more realistic stance, but will likely prove a more effective one too.