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Made in America Promise Act


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U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur's (D-OH) bill, H.R. 2039, the Congressional Made in America Promise Act, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives today by a vote of 371-36. The bill will extend Buy American Act requirements for federal agencies to apply to the legislative branch and aims to ensure that all of the products purchased by the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate are American-made.

 

"Our nation has been losing millions and millions of good jobs to foreign outsourcing while America has become more and more dependent on imported goods," said Rep. Kaptur. "It seems almost everything one buys has a sticker or a label designating it was made just about anywhere but in America – China, India, Malaysia -- or some other country. Outsourced production translates into lost jobs," she continued.

 

"The number of jobs lost to Americans as a result of the trade deficit is staggering. It is felt in every corner of America and certainly in my home state of Ohio. This year alone, the trade deficit has cut GDP growth by three points, to just over 1.5 percent. So, when an avalanche of imports dwarfs our exports, the bottom line is lost jobs, lost income, a diminishing middle class, and sluggish economic growth," said Kaptur.

 

"This legislation – H.R. 2039 – sets a clear standard and will bring about a change in practices. Business as usual and bad trade deals have brought this country to near economic calamity. We must restore manufacturing in America and start right here by raising the consciousness of the Legislative Branch of our federal government. Today, we send a clear message: it is time we make goods in America again and get our people back to work," Kaptur said.

 

"This nation grew its way out of the Great Depression and we can build and grow our way out of this Great Recession by buying goods made in our nation. Congress will once and for all get serious about leading America forward and use its buying power to support jobs and manufacturing in America," Kaptur concluded.

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H.R. 2039 would clarify that requirements of the Buy American Act apply to materials and supplies purchased by the legislative branch. Specifically, the bill would require that supplies and materials purchased for public use by Congress to be produced in the U.S. However, under current law, the “buy American” requirement may be waived if the head of an office of the legislative branch determines that the purchase is inconsistent with the public interest or the cost is unreasonable.

 

In addition, H.R. 2039 would impose a different and more stringent buy American standard on materials which bear the seal of the United States House of Representatives, the seal of the United States Senate, or the seal of the United States Congress and are acquired for use of an office in Congress. Under the bill, all products bearing such a seal would be required to be produced in the U.S. and the head of an office in the legislative branch could not waive the buy American provision by determining that the purchase or manufacture was unreasonably expensive. Thus, any material used by an office of the legislative branch and bearing a seal of Congress would be required to be produced in the U.S. without regard to its cost or the market value of the product.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

The Buy American Act (PL 72-428) was signed into law in 1933 to require the government to purchase U.S.-produced materials and products. Pursuant to current law, the government must purchase items that are made in America unless “the head of the department or independent establishment concerned shall determine it to be inconsistent with the public interest, or the cost to be unreasonable.” Since the passage of the Buy American Act, there have been numerous other provisions passed into law with requirements and preferences for the government to purchase products made in the U.S. The Berry amendment, enacted in 1941, for instance, requires the Department of Defense to give preference to procuring goods that are produced, grown or manufactured in the U.S., including textiles. Likewise, the Democrats’ $1.2 billion “stimulus” law requires the purchase of American goods (steel, iron, etc.) for stimulus funded government construction contracts.

 

Generally, buy American provisions include waivers to ensure that taxpayer funds are not used to make purchases at prices exorbitantly higher than present market value. However, H.R. 2039 would prohibit heads of legislative offices from determining that purchase costs are too high in the case of products which bear various Congressional seals. Some Members may be concerned that this provision may raise the cost of certain products purchased for use by Congress, and thus, increase government spending.

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Yesterday, Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) voted to boost the American manufacturing industry and create new jobs by requiring Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to purchase products that are made in the United States. The two bills, the Congressional Made in America Promise Act and the Berry Amendment Extension Act, are part of a national manufacturing plan to create the high-skill, high-wage jobs of the future—promoting American competitiveness, innovation, and exports.

 

In these tough economic times, it is important that we bring the jobs back to the United States and support our own industry by buying American made products,” said Congressman Thompson. “My colleagues and I will continue to work to create more jobs and ease the current economic burden on American families and businesses.”

 

The Congressional Made in America Promise Act requires Congress to purchase goods and services made by American workers for the first time since “Buy American” rules were instituted for federal agencies under President Roosevelt in 1933. This includes tighter Buy American requirements for items with the seal of Congress, the House, or Senate.

 

The Berry Amendment Extension Act bars the Department of Homeland Security from buying clothing, tents and other products that are not “grown, reprocessed, reused or produced” in America. For the last 60 years, the Berry Amendment has served our nation well requiring the Defense Department and the Coast Guard to buy a range of domestically produced or grown items with 100% U.S. content, and yesterday Congress voted to include the Department of Homeland Security.

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