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Public Statements

Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act Motion to Proceed Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. President, I so appreciate the leadership of Senator Durbin on the DREAM Act. Nobody has kept the DREAM Act alive more than he, and nobody has spoken more passionately or cares more about young people. The point of so much of what he is talking about is giving people an opportunity. If they work hard and play by the rules, they can get ahead in this country. While I do not come to the floor today to talk about immigration and the DREAM Act, I support what Senator Durbin is doing.

I come to speak about something else that is related to allowing people to have the opportunity to get ahead, and that is Ohio manufacturing and why it is so important to our country.

The best ticket to the middle class in the last 100 years in the State of Ohio and all over the country has been people making things. The way to create wealth is to either mine it or grow it or make it. The Presiding Officer in his State of Colorado understands all three of those. In Colorado they mine ore, they grow crops, they make products, as they do in Ohio. Ohio is increasingly becoming an energy State in many ways and a leading farm State. Our biggest industry in a sense in Ohio is agriculture. We are also the No. 3 manufacturing State in the United States of America. Only Texas and Colorado produce more than Ohio does. They are States two and three times our size in population and, in area, more than that.

We know that from 2000 to 2010, we lost one-third of the manufacturing jobs in this country. We lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs, which disappeared, suffered tens of thousands of plant closings, thousands of communities abandoned or crippled, teachers laid off, librarians laid off, police and firemen laid off, families broken because of these manufacturing job losses. More than 15,000 manufacturing jobs were lost between 2000 and 2010. Since early 2010, we now have 500,000 more jobs than we had in the early 2000s. In other words, for the first time in a decade, we are actually seeing manufacturing job gains. A big part of that is what has happened to the auto industry.

I spent much of last week all over my State but especially visiting places in northern Ohio where manufacturing and especially auto manufacturing is so important. I talked to business owners who are grateful and enthusiastic about what happened with the auto rescue. The auto industry was literally dying in Ohio and across the country. At this point 4 years ago, in late 2008 and early 2009, if the U.S. Congress, the President--the House and Senate--hadn't stepped in, my State would be in a depression. Since then, we are seeing major investments--in many cases hundreds of millions of dollars of investment--tens of millions spent on major investments in Toledo, OH, by Chrysler; major investments in Ohio by GM, major investments in Ohio by Ford, and major investments in Ohio by Honda. We all understand the auto industry is alive and well and coming back.

But many of these auto suppliers--companies that make brackets or bolts or wheel covers or glass or a number of other products that all go into auto assembly--many of these manufacturers, including component manufacturers of parts for the auto industry, talk about competing against China. For too long, they tell me--and I recognize--China has been manipulating its currency to give Chinese exports an unfair advantage. The Chinese Government also gives illegal subsidies to their domestic industries for the purpose of exporting and dumping products in the American market. The term ``dumping'' simply means they subsidize it so the product itself is priced under the cost of producing it. It is called dumping it in our market.

If that weren't enough, China skirted trade volume even further with illegal duties that affected more than 80 percent of U.S. auto exports to China, including Ohio-made vehicles such as Jeep, assembled in Toledo, and Acura, assembled in Marysville. We can't afford to let China take the wind out of our sails.

Last week, the day after Independence Day, the administration announced it would stand with American workers and fight back against China's discriminatory tariffs on American automobiles. When they use illegal international trade law--when they put illegal tariffs on American products--it means the Chinese keep prices so high for American-made autos--artificially high--the Chinese simply won't buy them. Chinese motorists won't buy them. So they, in effect, by using these tariffs, have kept American products made by American workers in the United States of America, out of China. We buy so much from China. We can buy products in almost any store in America that were made in China. We buy so many of their products, but they do all they can--illegally in many cases--to keep our products out.

Now is the time to stand for American workers, to stand for suppliers in Dayton who provide aluminum and zinc for casting, workers in Defiance, OH, who specialize in heavy-gauge steel for our domestic automobile industry. That is why the President's decision, the United States Trade Representative's decision, aimed at defending American jobs was so important. We know what rescuing the auto industry meant for us. It was not only about preventing crises, but it could have been an economic depression, especially in the industrial Midwest. Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans depend on the auto industry: workers, suppliers, manufacturers, drivers, truckers, sales representatives, dealerships.

For those of us in Congress who supported rescuing the auto industry, doing so meant standing for the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Americans, as much as it was about supporting the Big Three.

Today the domestic auto industry is back on course. GM is the leading car company in the world. It is earning significant profits. As I said, plants in Toledo and Lordstown and Defiance are hiring workers. Honda, Chrysler, Ford, GM, have all announced those various multimillion dollar investments in Ohio alone, not to mention many other States I named earlier.

We have to continue making the investments in manufacturing that matter for our recovery and our economic competitiveness. I was just on a conference call with rural housing advocates in Ohio. We know historically in this country what leads us out of depression: manufacturing and housing. We are doing significantly better in manufacturing. Remember earlier in my short little talk, that we lost 5 million manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2010. We have gained 500,000 since then, including in Ohio almost every single month over the last 30 months or so. Manufacturing is doing its part to pull us out of this recession. We have got to do better in housing. That is a subject for another discussion. But the manufacturing part is so important.

One place we must remain vigilant is the enforcement of trade laws. That is what the President is doing. We know that enforcing trade law is not just right for manufacturing, it is right for job creation. The International Trade Commission's ruling in December 2009 led to a broader measure on imports to support domestic producers of steel pipe, such as V&M Star Steel in Youngstown. By addressing illegal Chinese trade practices, this decision helped increase demand for domestic production. It played a significant role in V&M Star's decision to do something that people did not expect would happen anytime soon. V&M Star Steel made a decision to build a new $650 million seamless pipe mill in Youngstown, OH, bringing, I believe, about 1,000 building trades jobs, building the structure of the plant, and now several hundred jobs as they begin production--a new steel plant in Youngstown, OH, one of the major steel-producing centers in the country that had come on hard times, particularly in steel; a new steel mile in Youngstown, OH, because the President of the United States, because the International Trade Commission, because the Department of Commerce, because Congress pushed for it, actually enforced trade rules, and look what happened. So trade enforcement matters.

We also need to be vigilant in currency manipulation. Our trade deficit in auto parts with China grew from about $1 billion 10 years ago to almost $10 billion today. These massive illegal subsidies the Chinese are engaging in are worsened by indirect predatory subsidies such as currency manipulation. That is why my legislation, the Currency Exchange and Oversight Reform Act, the largest bipartisan jobs bill that has passed the Senate in the last 2 years, is so important. It got more than 70 votes in the Senate. Both parties supported it. The House of Representatives had passed a similar measure one other time. Now we are simply asking Speaker Boehner to schedule this bill for a vote. If it is scheduled for a vote, if the House votes on it, they will pass it, I would predict, with at least 300 votes, because large numbers of Members of both parties want to see the House of Representatives move. They voted for it before. We need Speaker Boehner to actually bring it to a vote.

It means standing for American jobs when China cheats. Without aggressive enforcement of trade laws, this unlevel playing field will cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs. It is born from the realization that stakes are too high for our workers, our manufacturers, our economy if we do not fight back. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach, at the U.S. Trade Rep, at the Department of State, at the Department of Commerce, to be involved and more aggressive, especially by initiating more trade actions.

We know our trade actions stabilized the auto industry. We know enforcement of trade law translates into steel jobs and paper jobs and tire jobs and other jobs. We know it is time to continue fighting for and investing in American manufacturing.

I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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