MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY COMPETITIVENESS ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - July 09, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 706 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the consideration of the bill, H.R. 3598.
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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Mr. LARSON of Connecticut asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, I would like to join in thanking both the ranking member and the distinguished chairs for the hard work which has been put forward on this bill. I just think we need an administration worthy of their ideas.
As we look at this particular bill, I want to go into the genesis of this thought. As the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Gordon) has pointed out in his opening remarks, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Ehlers) initially included this in his approach to the administration. It is strongly needed.
At a Chamber of Commerce meeting in my district between the communities of Bristol, Berlin and Southington, they talked at great length. In fact, if I closed my eyes, I was astonished, it seemed like I was at an AFL-CIO meeting, and yet they were talking about the concerns that small manufacturers have today and the need to have a strong voice within the Department of Commerce.
They wondered out loud how is it in this great country of ours we can have a Department of Agriculture and not have a department of manufacturing, and not have at least an under secretary who is going to speak out on their behalf. Candidly, they would say to me after the meeting, when we first saw labor being outsourced, when we first saw what was happening to labor, we kind of looked the other way, never thinking we would be next. Now we know it is happening to us, and now we need to have a strong voice in Congress and the administration.
The gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Flake) said before he hoped what we could achieve is something in the area of benign neglect. Would it be it was just benign neglect. What we have in this case is outright negligence on the part of Congress by not dealing with these issues; and if I dare say, plain indifference on the part of this administration to the problems that individuals are facing.
It is because of that indifference, indifference to the labor force, indifference to the small manufacturers, indifference to the working people and the hard work which has been put forth on behalf of these individuals and the loss of jobs in this country that we put forward this amendment.
This amendment simply states very clearly to create an under secretary within the Department of Commerce so we can refocus once begin the great energies and harness the great engine of industry here in this country. In doing so, we did so within existing resources. We did so knowing that we did not want to have another assistant to the assistant to the assistant and mix that with service sector industries. We wanted what the manufacturers wanted, an under secretary who would focus on the area of technology.
Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DeLauro).
Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Chairman, I believe there is a real need for a manufacturing czar. The administration has said it much, but one would never know it from the underlying bill. They have created a position not of real authority and substance, but rather a marginal position in the trade agency, and this administration has shown its hand by doing this.
The National Coalition For Advanced Manufacturing has said this position should focus solely on manufacturing. It should be an under secretary position within the Department of Commerce. Instead, the administration has named an assistant secretary for manufacturing and services within the International Trade Administration, an agency that does not have the range of expertise to address the issues before our manufacturers. As if to prove they are not serious about this position, the administration proposes no funding to support it.
Mr. Chairman, what we should be doing is creating a manufacturing and technology administration that provides a comprehensive approach, and sends a signal that Congress takes this crisis seriously.
Mr. Chairman, 8.2 million workers are unemployed in this country right now. They face rising health care costs, rising college tuition, and rising gas prices. What could possibly be more important than revitalizing one of the backbones of our economy? Nothing, Mr. Chairman. Support the Larson amendments.
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. Chairman, I would just close by saying that this accounts for more than 17 percent of our Nation's GDP, it provides for 71 percent of our exports, and funds 67 percent of our Nation's R&D investments. That is what we are talking about when we are addressing this issue of manufacturing. Roosevelt said it best about this administration, "They are frozen in the ice of their own indifference," indifference towards working people and indifference towards the small manufacturers of this country.