Quick Hit Ashlee Rezin Wednesday April 17th, 2013, 12:51pm

Bustos Introduces Legislation Aimed At Boosting Job Creation, Regulating Federal Contracts

A new House bill would make job creation an important element in contract bids for the federal government.

The legislation, called the American Jobs Matter Act, HR 1332, would require companies to include a “jobs impact statement” in their proposal for contract bids. The statement tells the government the number of jobs that will be created by the company and its subcontractors.

The legislation also requires companies to guarantee that jobs will not be moved outside of the U.S. once the contract has been awarded.

“America, specifically our region of America, has the best workers in the world,” said U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D, IL-17), sponsor of the legislation, on a conference call. “We should take advantage of their skills and craftsmanship.”

Six months after awarding the contract, the company would be subject to review. If the jobs created do not match the "jobs impact statement", future contracts for the company would be in jeopardy.

Calling the bill “simple”, Bustos said the legislation is bipartisan in nature. Introduced late last month, the bill has not yet seen any opposition or co-sponsors, and was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform  and the House Committee on Armed Services.

“It’s only common sense that government prioritize the companies that create jobs here at home,” said Bustos. “I see this as plain old common sense, something I think Democrats and Republicans can agree on.”

The bill is being attached to the larger “Make It In America Plan”, a collection of bills aimed at restoring America’s manufacturing sector and jumpstarting domestic job creation.

Spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D, MD-5), the plan was launched three years ago with 10 bills becoming law, including the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which offered tax incentives to small businesses, and the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which steered federal loans toward basic science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research.

A revitalization of the “Make It In America Plan” was announced with the hopes of pursuing a national manufacturing strategy, stimulating manufacturing job training, boosting American exports, and encouraging companies to establish and keep jobs in the U.S.

During a recent press conference, Hoyer said the plan reflects what manufacturers, labor leaders, and entrepreneurs have said are the most important factors for reinvigorating America's manufacturing sector and creating jobs.

“In this political climate, we recognize that serious proposals for creating jobs have to have a real chance of gaining bipartisan support in the House and Senate in order to become law,” he said.

Some examples include the AMERICA Works Act, HR 497, cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D, IL-10), which was included in the 2013 “Make It In America Plan.” The bill, which has received 18 co-sponsors, addresses workforce challenges in manufacturing by promoting partnerships between schools and businesses in an effort to match job training with industry needs.

“We always want taxpayer dollars to support the American economy, we want to protect those jobs because there has been this huge decline in manufacturing,” said David Cooper, economic analyst for the Economic Policy Institute, who noted that more than 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in America over the last 10 to 15 years.

Legislation by U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D, IL-11), the National Fab Lab Network Act, HR 1289, is also included in the "Make It In American Plan." Having 15 bipartisan co-sponsors, Foster's legislation would establish a charter of Fab Labs, which are open-to-the-public digital fabrication laboratories, across the nation.

However, Cooper said Bustos' American Jobs Matter Act, specifically the provision that denies companies' ability to outsource, may be regarded as an overstep of government regulations.

“It’s a tough issue, most people would agree that free trade is good on some level. We want globalization, we want to allow companies to find ways to reduce prices and manufacture things as efficiently as they can,” he said. “But we need to be mindful of how that process affects American workers and, unfortunately, there has been a race to the bottom.”

Cooper said companies are often focused on finding ways to manufacture in the cheapest possible manner, making them “too often” blind to the damaging effect on employees and communities.

“We put corporations before workers too often and I think unfortunately there’s always going to be tension between doing what’s right for workers and the big business interests who unfortunately have a lot of clout when it comes to policy making,” he said.

But Bustos said her legislation is “about jobs, plain and simple.”

“The bottom line is this, if the American taxpayers are funding a contract, (Congress) has a responsibility to protect how those dollars are invested, and if they create jobs, the jobs should be right here at home.”

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