The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to approve legislation introduced by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3, Western Springs) that would require the development of a national strategy to revitalize American manufacturing and create good-paying middle class jobs.
The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act, H.R. 5865, passed 339-77. The House’s approval sets up the opportunity for Senate consideration prior to year’s end.
“At a time when the political environment is highly polarized and Congress is not doing much besides bickering, I am especially proud to have moved this bipartisan bill forward in order to commit our nation to boosting manufacturing and growing jobs for the middle class,” Lipinski stated in a press release. “Manufacturing is a linchpin of our nation’s economy. It has provided the American middle class with a source of quality jobs, making everything from the goods we rely on for our everyday needs, to the equipment our national security depends upon.
“But in the first decade of this century, American manufacturing took a hard hit. Almost one-third of American manufacturing jobs disappeared. After 110 years as the world’s top manufacturing nation, America got knocked off its perch by China. I attorneyshave seen the devastation in my district and across northeastern Illinois. And I get frustrated, just like countless other Americans, when I cannot find the words ‘Made in U.S.A.’ on any products when I go shopping. Some say this is inevitable, but it does not have to be.
The resolution brings the public and private sectors together, along with members of both parties, to forge an actionable plan to promote the success of American manufacturing. The bill creates a bipartisan Manufacturing Competitiveness Board consisting of 15 members, five appointed by the president — including two governors from different parties — and 10 from the private sector appointed by the House and Senate, with the majority appointing three and the minority two in each chamber. The Board will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the U.S. and global manufacturing sectors, covering everything from trade issues to taxation, regulation, research, education, and new technologies.
Based on the analysis, the board will develop a strategy that includes goals and specific recommendations for achieving these goals. The first strategy is due in 2014 and the second in 2018. This quadrennial strategic approach is modeled on the Defense Department’s policy planning effort, the Quadrennial Defense Review.
“Having grown up in a neighborhood surrounded by manufacturing plants, I understand how important this industry is for middle class families and for communities,” Lipinski stated. “Not only do manufacturing companies provide huge numbers of jobs — while Facebook employs about 3,000 people, Boeing employs 172,000 — manufacturing has greater spillover effects, with every job supporting numerous additional jobs. When we lose manufacturing due to outsourcing, we lose the ability to create the breakthrough technologies of tomorrow — as occurred when consumer electronics manufacturing migrated to Asia and became a source of revolutionary battery technologies.
“Naysayers should consider the case of Germany, where manufacturing labor costs are 25 percent higher than in the U.S., yet manufacturing employment basically held steady there at a time that we lost 6.2 million jobs here. After a decade that saw Washington turn its back on manufacturing even as other countries sought to give their manufacturers every advantage, we need a national strategy that unleashes this vital sector of the American economy.”