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Public Statements

Bring Jobs Home Act--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COONS. Madam President, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today. I am following the Senator from the State of Colorado. My topic is also about manufacturing jobs in the United States. I thank the Senator from Colorado for coming to the Senate floor every day and reminding us of the importance of the consequences of the choices we make, whether it is the tax policy choice of failing to extend the production tax credit and the consequences for high-quality manufacturing jobs in the wind industry or the consequences for manufacturing all across our country, including the great State of New York, the State of Colorado, or the State of Delaware.

What we are on the Senate floor talking about is the Bring Jobs Home Act, which is just one of the many important ways we can and should be fighting for high-quality manufacturing jobs in our home States and across our country.

It was a very dark day when the Chrysler plant in Newark, DE, where I am from, shut its doors. It was built in the early 1950s first as a tank plant and then converted to an auto plant. This was a manufacturing facility that had sustained whole communities over several generations with high-quality, highly-skilled, and highly paid manufacturing jobs. In December of 2008, they closed their doors for the very last time, and that plant has now been torn down to the ground. It is an empty hole in the heart of the city of Newark.

We thought it couldn't have gotten any worse than the day that those thousands of workers filed out of the plant for the very last time, but it did just a few short months later when the General Motors plant--a few miles away in Boxwood--shuttered its doors.

In just a year Delaware went from having two high-performing, high-quality auto plants to none. We lost nearly 3,000 middle-class manufacturing jobs, and this was followed by a whole constellation of other plant closings from Avon, which lost hundreds of jobs to dozens of smaller manufacturers that had supported these auto plants for decades.

I know 3,000 jobs may not sound like a lot in the wreckage of the recession of 2008 to this whole country, but for Delawareans, for our small State, and for all the families who were supported for so long, it was huge.

I have an idea that I talk about all the time at home in Delaware; that is, we need to get back to ``Made in America'' and ``Manufactured in Delaware.'' That means something to us. Back in 1985 when I was just finishing school, transportation equipment manufacturing--which is the fancy way of saying making cars and all the stuff that goes in them--employed 10,000 people in Delaware. Today it is well below one-tenth of that.

Made in America and manufactured in Delaware has to mean something for our families, for our communities, and for our future. Delaware was once a great and strong manufacturing State, as America was once the greatest manufacturing Nation on Earth. Some believe those days are behind us, but I do not.

I know my colleague, Senator Debbie Stabenow from Michigan, the lead sponsor of the bill we are debating, the Bringing Jobs Home Act, also does not believe our future as a world-class, world-leading manufacturer is behind us. I know the people of Michigan, the people of New York, and the people of Delaware do not.

I had the great opportunity this morning to visit with two leaders of Delaware-based manufacturers whom I just wanted to lift up for a moment as we talk about the Bring Jobs Home Act. Marty Miller, the CEO of Miller Metal in Bridgeville, DE, has had a little heralded program known as the manufacturing extension partnership that helps small manufacturers streamline their production processes, reduce waste and inefficiency, do their ordering and throughput far more effectively, and compete head-to-head around the world successfully. This manufacturing extension partnership has allowed Marty's company to grow by 25 jobs in just the last year and to compete head to head with Chinese metal fabricating plants in the global market, and win.

ILC Dover has been known to Delawareans for its storied history in our space program. They made all the spacesuits for NASA. But they have also made blimps that have hovered over Iraq and Afghanistan and protected our troops with downward-looking radar and real-time information, and they make the escape hoods and the masks that actually are positioned around the periphery of this Chamber and throughout this building and at the Pentagon. They have made remarkable high quality soft goods for decades and they too have a promising future and the opportunity to grow even in this recovery because they too are focused on things made in America and manufactured in Delaware.

These two companies, these two men, the organizations they lead, are, in my view, just an introduction to what can and should be a renaissance, a recovery, of manufacturing in the United States. We still produce more in dollar value in manufacturing than any country on Earth, but there has been a downward slope in the number of jobs and in the sense of energy and investment and focus in our policy and in our priorities in manufacturing for years.

I think we can become a great manufacturing Nation again and our middle class can be stronger than ever, but we have to make smarter choices. We have to make smarter choices in our Tax Code. We have to look at our Tax Code with an eye toward fairness and investment for the future and not just short-term profitability. We need common sense and we need, in my view, to support companies that are creating jobs here, and we need to cut our support for companies that instead want to create jobs in China, in India, in Vietnam, in Thailand, by exporting jobs from the United States.

As our economy pulls back out of what has been a devastating recession, I can think of no more galling idea than this country incentivizing American companies to ship some of our best jobs overseas. Yet, as the Presiding Officer knows, our current Tax Code allows businesses to deduct the cost of moving expenses, including permits and license fees, lease brokerage fees, equipment installation costs, and certain other expenses. A company can take this deduction if they are moving from Bridgeville, DE, to Birmingham, AL, but it also turns out they can take it if they are moving to Bridgeville from Bangalore or Beijing. Can any of us think of a worse way to spend tax dollars? This is a loophole so big we could drive a car through it, right out of the shuttered manufacturing plants of Delaware.

Fixing the injustice of our Tax Code is the first half of the Bring Jobs Home Act. We say: We are not going to pay anymore for companies that send U.S. jobs overseas. We have better ways to invest our tax dollars in rebuilding the base of manufacturing and the high-quality, high-paying jobs that come from them.

The second thing this bill does is instead of incentivizing the outsourcing of American jobs, we incentivize insourcing. We say: Bring these jobs home. The Bring Jobs Home Act says a company can keep the deduction to help pay moving costs if they are moving from one facility in the United States to another. That is fine. They can still use the moving cost deduction if they are moving from a facility abroad back to the United States. That is better. But this bill takes a further step. We say: If companies bring jobs home to the United States, we will give them an additional 20-percent tax credit on the costs associated with moving that production back to the United States.

The message of this bill is straightforward: If you are an American company and you have manufacturing jobs or service jobs that could be done by Americans, we want you to bring those jobs home, and we are going to help you do it.

For my small State, I want to keep saying every chance I get that what we want is made in America and manufactured in Delaware. Lord knows we have the workforce. There is an army of talented Delawareans, of Americans, ready to go. Ford knows it; Caterpillar knows it; GE knows it. As we have heard from Senator Stabenow, that is why they have brought jobs home. They are opening new plants in the United States and putting Americans back to work.

There is a company in Newark, DE, called FMC BioPolymer. They make specialty chemicals. They have run a factory in Newark, DE, for 50 years--in fact, exactly 50 years this year. They make a type of cellulose we find in everyday products such as foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and cleaning products. They had outsourced some of their manufacturing to China to save costs. But as we can imagine, when a company is working with these sorts of advanced products that go into consumer products, safety is key. So for performance and engineering and intellectual property and safety reasons, they brought some of their most critical jobs home. They employ more than 100 people and contribute more than $20 million to our local economy every year, and it is an important part of our economy. So to FMC BioPolymer, I say thank you for bringing jobs home and strengthening made in America, manufactured in Delaware.

If big companies and small companies are figuring this out, when will the Federal Government, when will this Congress figure it out as well?

The best thing we can do for our economy--for millions of talented Americans looking for work, from our returning veterans to those who have searched so hard for work for the last 2 or 3 years, is to invest in them. We can pass the Bring Jobs Home Act as a smart choice to invest in American workers and their communities, to invest in their education, in their schools and in their teachers, to invest in our infrastructure and our roads and our power grid, to make smarter choices as a country and a Congress. There is no better investment I can think of than to make this phrase real, to return to Made in America and manufactured in the States of every one of the Senators of this great body.

This is common sense. But, alas, in the Senate, common sense these days rarely seems to win the day. I hope those watching and I hope those whom we represent take this seriously and recognize that the most important question before us is what are we going to do to take the fight in the global economy, on behalf of our families, on behalf of our communities, on behalf of our manufacturers, and change things in our Tax Code, in our trade policy, in our intellectual property policy, to make it possible to not just invent things here and make them elsewhere but to invent them here and make them here.

I hope this body will proceed to vote in favor of the Bring Jobs Home Act so that for every one of our home States we can make this phrase true--that we want things made in America and manufactured in our home States.

I thank the Chair.


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