U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) today introduced bipartisan legislation to increase U.S. manufacturing, competiveness and export opportunities. The Building a Stronger America Act incorporates significant elements of Sen. Warner's 2011 America Recruits legislation, a bill that would recruit new, high-value jobs to rural regions in the United States by encouraging the repatriation of jobs that have been off-shored to other countries.
"America's competitors for solid, good-paying manufacturing jobs are nations like Brazil, China and Korea -- countries which have consistently offered generous federal-level incentives to attract investment and jobs," Senator Warner said. "This bipartisan package includes my proposal to help states like Virginia provide a targeted boost to state and local economic development incentives to allow us to bring back manufacturing jobs that have gone overseas. This bipartisan jobs package also works to strengthen workforce training programs and expand export opportunities for American employers."
The broader Building a Stronger America Act package focuses on three areas where the federal government can help facilitate new growth: strengthening the U.S. manufacturing sector, leveling the playing field for American companies, and enhancing trade opportunities for American companies:
1. Strengthening the U.S. Manufacturing Sector
Companies, ranging from big manufacturers to small businesses, are struggling to hire skilled workers. In order to address this gap, the legislative package includes initiatives to help the manufacturing sector improve existing job training, retention and expansion programs, such as the:
Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act, S.665, which directs the Secretary of Commerce to award three-year competitive industry or manufacturing sector grants to encourage industry growth and competitiveness and improved training, retention, and advancement in targeted industry clusters. (Sherrod Brown-Snowe)
WIN Jobs Act, S.1948, which directs the Secretary of Commerce to establish the Innovation in Investment pilot program to make competitive grants to business and higher education consortia that would expand workforce training in high-tech manufacturing and developing industries through public-private partnerships. Directs the Secretary of Labro to establish a pilot program to modernize and expand the National Apprenticeship System. (Pryor-Wicker)
Sen. Warner's America Recruits Act, S.1247, which:
Creates a competitive grant program for states to provide up to $5,000 in forgivable loans for each new manufacturing job created and maintained for at least five years within a rural or economically-distressed region of the country.
Works with employers to develop training and education programs for the specific jobs available at area businesses, strengthening those programs which provide an industry-recognized credential for workers in the advanced manufacturing and information technology industries;
And expedites federal financing to allow certain qualifying companies to increase export capacity.
2. Leveling the Playing Field
U.S. exporters are held to the highest standards when doing business with foreign governments and the international community. This section would incorporate legislative concepts that improve U.S. import standards, ensuring that foreign exporters abide by the same standards as their domestic counterparts. It includes the:
Enforcing Orders and Reducing Customs Evasion Act, S.1133, which requires the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to establish procedures for investigating claims of evasion of anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders. (Wyden-Blunt)
Global Investment in American Jobs Act, S.3274, which requires the Secretary of Commerce to lead an interagency review and report of U.S. laws and policies on foreign direct investment and make recommendations to make the U.S. more competitive. The bill also includes a Sense of the Senate that it is a good idea for the U.S. to attract inbound investment by removing unnecessary barriers and promoting good polices to ensure the U.S. remains the premier destination for businesses. (Kerry-Corker)
3. Enhancing America's Trade and Export Programs
Currently, a multitude of federal agencies are tasked with enabling and accelerating the ability of domestic companies to export their products and services overseas. This section streamlines the activities of the vast array of export promotion and facilitation agencies inside the executive branch. It includes the:
Export Promotion Act, S.2171, which updates the duties of the Department of Commerce Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) to improve the coordination of export promotion activities within the United States in order to target and develop new export markets for U.S. products. (Pryor-Blunt)
Small Business Export Growth Act, S.3218, which revises membership of the TPCC to include one member that represents state agencies with responsibility for export promotion and export financing. The bill also requires reports for improving access about export information (including state resources) on the Export.gov website and for developing a single website for complying with and disseminating information about U.S. export control laws and regulations. (Shaheen-Ayotte)