Sunday, May 22, 2005

'Buy American' legislation draws fire: "Adding fuel to the debate over U.S.-international trade, a tech industry group is blasting 'Buy American' legislation passed by the House of Representatives this week.

"On Friday, the Information Technology Association of America called the measure bad security policy and bad economic policy. The legislation, an amendment to the Homeland Security Authorization Act, would force the Department of Homeland Security to buy products mostly made in America.

"The legislation was authored by Rep. Don Manzullo, an Illinois Republican, and passed by the House on Wednesday. It would require more than 50 percent of the components in any end product procured by the department to be mined, produced or manufactured inside the United States.

"'With this purchasing prohibition, I guess (the department) will have to learn to do without computers and cell phones,' ITAA President Harris Miller said in a statement. 'I cannot think of a single U.S. manufacturer that could meet this 50 percent threshold for these devices, and I doubt that those charged with protecting our safety here at home can either.'

"Manzullo said the measure is in the tradition of the Buy American Act, passed during the Great Depression. 'When U.S. taxpayers' dollars are spent, we must make sure the federal government is buying as much of their goods and services possible from U.S. manufacturers,' Manzullo said in a statement Wednesday. 'This legislation preserves the intent of the Buy American Act while helping to restore the U.S. industrial base and creating jobs for Americans.'"

Buy American provision likely to die in Senate, critics say: "A House Armed Services Committee-passed provision that could ban European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company subsidiary Airbus from competing with Boeing for the Air Force's lucrative tanker contract is not likely to survive the Senate.

"House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., offered the amendment during the final hours of marking up the fiscal 2006 defense authorization bill.

"It would prohibit the Defense Department from contracting with foreign firms that receive government subsidies, as Airbus does from European countries."

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) has introduced the Buy American Improvement Act of 2005
to increase the requirement for American-made content and to tighten the waiver provisions.

In a speech about an earlier version of his legislation, Sen. Feingold called the current waiver provisions a "gaping loophole," and also called for increasing "the minimum American-made content standard for qualification under the Act from the current 50 percent to 75 percent.

"The definition of what qualifies as an American-made product has been a source of much debate. To me, it seems clear that American-made means manufactured in this country. This classification is a source of pride for manufacturing workers around our country. The current 50 percent standard should be raised to a 75 percent minimum."

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