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This Week in Washington

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It appears that our Made in America agenda is starting to catch on in Congress. We're beginning to see an increase in proposals to change our flawed trade laws, promote American industries, and empower the American worker. I welcome this change.

As you know, one of my main focuses in Congress has been to push our government to require that the goods and materials it purchases are made here. I've also worked to end the incentives that exist for companies to ship our good jobs overseas, and have signed on to measures to repeal NAFTA and end the unfair trade laws that have ravaged our local economy.

We've learned during last year's Census that many of the forms and paperwork were printed in China. Unbelievably, there is also no requirement that the materials used to build our national monuments be made in America. As we fight to keep our nation great and promote American businesses, oversights like these are simply unacceptable.

A colleague of mine, Congressman Dale Kildee of Michigan, will soon introduce legislation to require our national monuments be made from American materials. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation. Another member of Congress, Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia, has introduced the Bring Jobs Back to America Act, which I proudly support. This measure will help restructure our nation's manufacturing plan and promote the bringing home of jobs that were once held by Americans but have since been shipped overseas.

By working with the private sector to increase competitiveness and bolster industries, we will not only insure that our companies have a fair chance to compete for global markets, but we also help guarantee that government policies will finally allow for increased exportation of goods and services, rather than exporting jobs and revenue. Revitalizing domestic manufacturing will be the key to our economic recovery, and this is a step in the right direction.

As we anticipate the introduction of the severely flawed Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, I have also been joined by colleagues on both sides of the aisle who share my opposition to this deal. This new trade deal with Korea does nothing more than benefit Chinese and Korean workers and businesses. Just as we saw with NAFTA and CAFTA, using this model is a continuation of the mistakes of the past, shuttering our plants and mills and leaving good, hardworking people behind. As a former textile worker, I know this story all too well.

I want you to know that textiles are not dead. This week, I was honored to be a guest speaker at the annual meeting of the National Council of Textile Organizations. This meeting brought manufacturers from across the nation to Washington to discuss their priorities and what they need in order to be successful. This meeting included many yarn and hosiery companies from our district, allowing them to speak with many of their counterparts and focus on promoting and growing their industry. When our local businesses are successful, our nation finds success. When our local businesses grow, jobs are created and more of our residents have an opportunity to provide for their families.

The manufacturers I speak with all want the same things. They want our government to stop giving their success away with bad trade deals and unfair regulations. They do not want a handout or a bail-out, they just want a fair chance to compete so their quality-made, job-creating goods can be shipped and sold around the world. They're sick and tired of beginning each day at an immediate and overwhelming disadvantage to countries like China, Mexico and Korea; a disadvantage created in large part by the failed and flawed policies of our own government. I share a basic belief with the investors, management and laborers who toil in the American manufacturing sector: that Made in America is still the best brand in the world.

Our nation was built on the belief that success comes through hard work and talent. Throughout our history, that rich tradition has helped build a nation, an economy and a quality of life that is the envy of the world. As we work to rebuild our economy, we are still capable of finding success through manufacturing. We must never again have a time where complete industries or geographic regions such as ours are allowed to be cast aside for the sake of our relationship with foreign nations. Given a level playing field, American capital, expertise and hard work will restore our economy to good health, and our nation to the values and strength for which we have known throughout our history.


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