10/03/2014 12:08 pm ET Updated Dec 03, 2014

On National Manufacturing Day, Congress Must Recommit Itself to Investing in a Strong Manufacturing Future

As we mark National Manufacturing Day, Americans ought to be filled with pride in our role as the world's manufacturing leader. But we cannot take that leadership for granted, as our competitors across the globe seek to lure manufacturing jobs away from our shores. That's why National Manufacturing Day ought to be a day of action to secure our competitive edge and recommit ourselves to helping America's manufacturers create jobs here at home.

Today, President Obama is visiting Millennium Steel in Princeton, Indiana -- one of the nation's largest minority-owned manufacturing companies -- and asking Americans to see for themselves what our manufacturing sector is doing to grow our economy and create good jobs. He's asking all of us to consider the role manufacturing plays in our economy and in our lives -- and what we as a nation can and must do to help our manufacturing sector succeed.

Manufacturing has been the backbone of our economy since the Industrial Revolution. For generations, Americans have proudly gone to work in some of the most innovative factories to produce goods that have changed the world. American steel built our cities, and American-made technologies powered the first computers that guided our astronauts to the moon and launched the information age. Most important, America's manufacturers created good jobs that built a strong middle class through opportunity and advancement.

Manufacturing jobs have traditionally paid higher wages and offered competitive benefits that help workers access a range of opportunities, such as homeownership, higher education, affordable health care, and a secure retirement. They are the jobs that sustain our middle class and make the American Dream attainable for millions.

Over the past three decades, though, as our competitors overseas took aggressive steps to attract investment, many of the manufacturing jobs that had fueled our economy for so long began to disappear. But the tide has begun to turn back our way, as international shipping of important products has become more expensive, as our country produces more energy at home, as the cost of labor overseas has increased, and as new, advanced technology manufacturers look to co-locate research, design, and production near one another. Over the past few years, our manufacturing sector has seen strong gains that reveal a potential for explosive growth -- but only if Congress can capitalize on these gains by investing in a more competitive economy.

Since 2010, I've been leading an effort in Congress to invest in economic competitiveness and manufacturing growth. Our plan, called Make It In America, focuses on four key areas that have strong, bipartisan support: adopting a national manufacturing strategy, promoting U.S. exports, encouraging the return of jobs and innovation from overseas, and securing a twenty-first century workforce. More than seventy bills have been introduced that aim to advance these four goals. Among the legislation we've introduced under this plan are bills to make the research and development tax credit permanent, provide small business exporters with certainty through a multi-year reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, invest in rebuilding and upgrading freight infrastructure, and facilitate new and innovative public-private partnerships to create talent pipelines from schools to colleges to careers.

Make It In America legislation deserves to be considered and voted on by the House so that we can create the conditions that will help businesses grow and succeed, but the Republican Majority has blocked action. While Republicans continue their policy of obstruction, Democrats and the president will keep doing everything possible to support a strong manufacturing renaissance for America.

At the president's request, more than 1,300 manufacturers across the country will be open for visitors to mark National Manufacturing Day. These businesses are eager to show them what cutting-edge American manufacturing is all about. I hope Americans will take advantage of this opportunity to tour factories and meet with the men and women who are driving our manufacturing resurgence -- and hear firsthand about why they need a Congress that doesn't tell manufacturing businesses and workers that they are on their own. Instead, it's time they had a Congress that is truly on their side.