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Defense Production Act Reauthorization Of 2009

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in strong support of S. 1677, the Defense Production Act Reauthorization of 2009. The Defense Production Act was enacted in 1950 during the Korean War to assure the timely availability of industrial resources to meet national defense needs, particularly in times of crisis.

The Defense Production Act has expanded beyond its original focus on military requirements, as the name suggests, to expand industrial resources to meet other emergency preparedness and critical infrastructure needs, thereby allowing civilian agencies to respond rapidly to crises such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

S. 1677 updates the Cold War-era law with 21st century tools and taxpayer protections. In accordance with the General Accounting Office and Department of Homeland Security recommendations, it mandates greater coordination and implementation among Federal civilian agencies to use authorities to prioritize government contracts for our national defense and domestic emergency needs. It modernizes Federal loan and loan guarantee authorities in the act so essential government suppliers that otherwise would have trouble accessing credit can access credit to expand domestic industrial capacity in emergency situations. Such assistance is conditioned on government need, recipients' viability, and specific congressional appropriation.

This new bill would establish a new interagency body called the Defense Production Act Committee that will elevate Defense Production Act policy discussions to Cabinet-level consideration to advise the President and improve coordination among all agencies delegated Defense Production Act authority. The panel will report to Congress annually on its use of Defense Production Act authorities and provide recommendations for any improvements.

Over the years, Mr. Speaker, the Defense Production Act has been an important tool for meeting national defense and critical infrastructure needs such as mine-resistant vehicles for troops in Iraq and emergency supplies and services for Hurricane Katrina recovery on the domestic side.

I hope my colleagues will join me in voting for the Defense Production Act Reauthorization Act of 2009, S. 1677.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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