Pryor, Blunt, Warner, Snowe, Brown Unveil Bipartisan “Made in America” Package

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mark Warner (D-VA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today introduced a package of bipartisan legislation targeted to increase U.S. manufacturing, competiveness and exports.

The Building a Stronger America Act includes seven bipartisan measures to move our economy forward and support American competitiveness.  It 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. 

“Made in America” remains the gold standard around the world. We need a smarter strategy to help U.S. manufacturers compete and market American goods abroad,” Senator Pryor said. “This package combines some of the best, common-sense initiatives proposed and supported by both Democrats and Republicans. We must all be working on the same team, wearing the same jersey. It’s time we get a strong economic package for the American people across the finish line.”

“As our nation’s economy struggles to rebound, many Missouri business owners, manufacturers, and farm families continue to express their concerns about remaining competitive in markets worldwide,” said Senator Blunt. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues on this bipartisan package, which will help job creators in my state and nationwide compete in a global economy by strengthening American manufacturing, competitiveness, and export opportunities.”

“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 key elements of my ‘America Recruits’ legislation, which would provide a modest additional incentive to help states like Virginia bring jobs that have gone overseas. ‘America Recruits’ also will support state and local initiatives to provide a trained and qualified workforce for these new employers.”

“It is critical that we work together in the United States Senate to pass bipartisan, consensus-driven legislation that will help bolster our nation’s economy and get Americans back to work,” said Senator Snowe, who co-chairs the Senate Task Force on Manufacturing with Senator Sherrod Brown.  “I am proud to cosponsor the Building a Stronger America Act, which compiles seven critical proposals from both sides of the aisle designed to help our nation’s businesses both compete and export globally, as well as manufacture goods here at home.  Of particular note, I am pleased that the bill includes the SECTORS Act, which I introduced with Senator Sherrod Brown to improve workforce training in our nation’s manufacturing sector, and the ENFORCE Act, my legislation with Senator Ron Wyden to give U.S. Customs and Border Protection new enforcement tools to prevent illegal importation of foreign goods.”

“Ensuring our workers have the skills needed to fill 21st-century jobs, guaranteeing that U.S. businesses can compete on a level playing field, and increasing exports are just three ways that Democrats and Republicans can work together to strengthen our economy and improve American competitiveness,” Senator Brown said. “Too many employers have trouble finding workers with the right skills, while too many Ohioans are still searching for jobs. One important facet of this bill is the SECTORS Act, legislation I introduced with Sen. Snowe to encourage clusters-based job growth. The Building a Stronger America Act combines several important job proposals on which members of both parties can agree.”

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 Labor to establish a pilot program to modernize and expand the National Apprenticeship System. (Pryor-Wicker)

• America Recruits Act, S.1247, which establishes a grant program to States to encourage the in-sourcing of new manufacturing facilities.  The bill also directs the Secretary of Commerce to ensure that industry-approved certification assessments and standards are established and available to providers of education and training programs in manufacturing and information technology. (Warner)

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)

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 website and for developing a single website for complying with and disseminating information about U.S. export control laws and regulations. (Shaheen-Ayotte)