Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) yesterday told members of the House Rules Committee that the Coast Guard's history of buying ship engines from overseas manufacturers is "just plain wrong," and introduced a measure to require that the service "Buy American."
During debate over the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011 (H.R. 2838) Baldwin offered an amendment that would prohibit funds from being used to design, develop, or procure Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Cutter ships unless the main diesel engines are manufactured in the United States and made by American workers. To address any concerns that this could be a single source contract, the provision could be waived to ensure competition and the best value to the taxpayer.
"Getting Americans back to work is my number one priority," Baldwin told her colleagues. "We have a choice. We can continue funneling good-paying jobs overseas, or we can put the best interest of America's working families and our national security first," she said.
The Coast Guard plans to procure 25 or more Offshore Patrol Cutters in the coming years. The Coast Guard also has a history of buying ship engines from overseas manufacturers and of designing ship platforms that give preference to foreign manufacturers. Baldwin said this practice is driving American jobs overseas. Although Congress required that Coast Guard vessels be manufactured in the United States starting in 1993, in recent years, the Coast Guard has continued to procure vessel engines from foreign manufacturers.
Baldwin said, "It doesn't make sense that any branch of the federal government -- especially the Armed Services -- would choose to give a major contract to a foreign competitor. With unemployment at 9.1 percent (1), we can no longer tolerate this situation. Let's bring these jobs home. Let U.S. manufacturers compete for our federal dollars!"
"Too many politicians talk about creating jobs and then do nothing. Wisconsin workers are very grateful for Congresswoman Baldwin's efforts to keep and create jobs here at home. Where these ship engines are made affects both our economy and our national security. It's a no-brainer that they should be made here by American workers," said Jim Cavanaugh, President, South Central (WI) Federation of Labor.
"When it comes to our National Defense we shouldn't rely on foreign manufacturers. The Steelworkers Union applauds Rep. Tammy Baldwin's efforts to keep these jobs in the USA," said Don Collins, Staff Representative, United Steelworkers.
The Republican-controlled Rules Committee rejected Baldwin's amendment.