July 29, 2010
By Joanna Anderson and Frances Symes
The House passed a trio of measures Wednesday aimed at bolstering the domestic manufacturing sector and creating more American jobs.
The bills are part of an ongoing effort by House Democrats to advance manufacturing-related legislation. Some Republicans argued that the bills would be ineffective — particularly legislation to establish a national manufacturing strategy.
“America agrees on the importance of manufacturing to our economy,” said Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., “Over the past decade, America lost one-third of its manufacturing jobs.”
By voice vote, the House passed a bill (HR 5156) to promote the development and export of clean-energy technology. It would authorize $75 million over five years for Commerce Department initiatives to create U.S. jobs in the clean-energy sector, bolster the competitiveness of clean-energy firms and encourage innovation.
The bill would direct the department to implement a clean-energy export strategy and to help U.S. businesses promote the export of clean-energy products and services.
Some industry analysts say clean-energy technology could be a catalyst for domestic growth, given the growing international demand for electricity.
Another measure (HR 4692), passed 379-38, would require the president to issue a national manufacturing strategy every four years aimed at creating jobs and increasing the global competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing sector.
The strategy would be developed in consultation with a new Commerce Department board that would advise the president and Congress on U.S. manufacturing issues. The board would be composed of both public and private sector stakeholders.
Bill sponsor Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., said the measure would “ensure that American manufacturing remains on the national agenda.”
Republican Phil Gingrey of Georgia said the bill does nothing more than create “another study group.” He and other Republicans said that Congress should instead be working on lowering the corporate tax rate and acting on pending free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.
The Energy and Commerce Committee approved the clean-energy and manufacturing strategy bills last week.
The third measure (HR 1875), which passed by voice vote, would create an emergency commission to consider ways of cutting the national trade deficit. The bill would direct the commission to recommend specific policies and strategies to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers domestically and globally.
Sponsor Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., voiced particular concern over the trade imbalance between China and the United States. “We get played for a sucker in these trade deals,” he said. “We need to identify these barriers that are being put up by the Chinese and others.”
Edward Epstein and Marian Jarlenski contributed to this story.