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. KIND. Mr. Chairman, America's manufacturing sector has been in crisis for the past 4 years with over 2.7 million quality jobs lost, including 80,000 in my home state of Wisconsin. Congress must act to stem this trend and invest in programs that help our Nation's manufacturers compete and grow in the global economy.
Throughout the Third Congressional District, I have been meeting with local business owners, workers, educators, and government officials to discuss economic challenges facing Wisconsin to determine what can be done to help Wisconsin businesses grow. As a member of the Congressional Manufacturing Task Force, I have focused on how the federal government can most effectively help small- and medium-sized manufacturers compete and grow. There are no easy answers to this problem, but through good investments and smart practices, the federal government can better assist American companies and help America keep its economic edge.
One of the most successful programs helping manufacturers throughout the Nation is the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program within the Department of Commerce's National Institutes of Standards and Technology. Through a national network of manufacturing extension centers, MEP is designed to benefit domestic manufacturers by providing expertise and services tailored to their most critical needs. This includes assistance in process improvements, worker training, and information technology applications. In Wisconsin, MEP has served over 110 firms.
To strengthen this program, I support an amendment offered by Representative GORDON to increase the authorization limit for MEP and help states match funding so more businesses can benefit. With our manufacturing sector suffering, it is important that we build on the successes of the MEP program.
In addition, I support the amendment offered by Representative JACKSON-LEE to halt a misguided proposal by the Administration to "recompete" MEP centers. Recompetition of MEP centers could destroy the effective national system of centers established over the past 14 years. This could result in fewer projects initiated and consumes valuable resources that could be used to help American businesses.
Mr. Chairman, it is important that we step up and help manufacturers in real, measurable ways. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue to invest in small- and medium-sized businesses.