House Panel Approves Bill For National Manufacturing Strategy
July 21, 2010
By Shayndi Raice
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- A House panel approved legislation Wednesday that would require the president to create a four-year national manufacturing strategy to advance the country's interests in the global economy.
Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D., Ill.), the bill's sponsor, said the legislation is " the best way to help move manufacturing forward in our country."
In 2009, the manufacturing sector employed 11.5 million people, down from 17.3 million people 10 years earlier, according to Rep. Bobby Rush (D., Ill.), chairman of the subcommittee on commerce, trade and consumer protection.
The manufacturing act would require the president to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the country's manufacturing sector. The analysis would be carried out by a board made up of federal officials, two state governors from each party and nine private sector leaders that would submit its recommendations to him. The results would yield a four-year strategy that would include long- and short- term goals for the country's manufacturing businesses. The national strategy would be reported to Congress and made available to the public.
"It's a welcome step forward and we hope that it is the first of many initiatives that congress will pass to support manufacturing before the end of year," said Scott Paul, executive director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
Lipisnki said he hopes to have a House vote on the bill before the end of next week and expects to receive bipartisan support. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R., Ky.), the top Republican on the committee, said that he intends to vote in favor of the legislation.
But Kevin A. Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute called the legislation indefensible, and said "the bill is just another pay-off by the Democrats of organized labor."
"There's been a long-term decline in manufacturing in the U.S.," he added. " Assembling a task force and charging them with reversing the trend is to deny progress."
The Obama administration has yet to take a formal position on the legislation. Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer and associate director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in a hearing on July 14 that he wouldn't comment on the administration's view on the legislation. He did say, however, that, "the administration envisions an economy in which jobs are more plentiful, American firms are more competitive, American manufacturing is robust and exports of high-tech products and services far exceed imports."
Both Lipinski and Paul said they were unconcerned that the administration has not yet formally supported the bill. "I think [the legislation] meshes very nicely with their goals of revitalizing manufacturing," said Paul.
Lipinski added that if the House passes the legislation he intends to formally ask the administration for its support as the bill moves to the Senate.
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