Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, a representative from the 11th congressional district of Illinois, has a clear-cut strategy for creating the next generation of manufacturing jobs.
Halvorson's plan includes: implementing a National Strategy for Manufacturing, modernizing workforce investment programs, ending unfair trade practices, creating tax incentives for American manufacturing and clean energy, and increasing access to capital for manufacturers through loan guarantees.
Halvorson is a co-sponsor of the National Manufacturing Strategy Act (H.R. 4692), legislation that would charge the president with submitting a National Manufacturing Strategy to Congress every four years. "The plan would include legislative proposals to train the manufacturing workforce, boost productivity, incentivize growth, and create new jobs." According to govtrack.com, the bill has been approved by the committee, and placed on a calendar of business to be voted on by the House as a whole.
With the passing of this Act, the United States would witness a concentrated effort by both the executive and legislative branch to return America's manufacturing capabilities, including the job training that is absolutely necessary and currently unseen in the U.S. Our country does not have the industrial intelligence necessary in our labor force to compete as a manufacturing economy. The provisions in this Act would seek to aid in reversing the loss of our manufacturing prowess.
To further ensure that American workers receive proper and modern training, Halvorson has also co-authored and introduced the AMERICA Works Act (H.R. 4072), legislation that seeks to modernize federal workforce training programs to better prepare participants for high-tech jobs in the manufacturing sector. Unfortunately, this bill appears dead in committee.
Additionally, Halvorson has legislation in the works to address two important unfair trade issues we are currently facing with China. She has co-sponsored the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (H.R. 2378) and the Reciprocal Government Procurement with China Creates American Jobs Act (H.R. 5312). H.R. 2378 is important because it addresses the undervaluing of China's currency by its officials, which allows Chinese producers to sell its goods in the U.S. market at artificially low prices, which undercuts American manufacturers. H.R. 5312 seeks to limit the U.S. government from purchasing Chinese made goods until China is willing to return the favor.
Both of these initiatives by Congresswoman Halvorson are essential in reducing our gargantuan trade deficit with China (which, for 2009, stood at minus $226.8 billion - - census.gov). H.R. 5312 was sent to committee on May 26, of 2010 and H.R. 2378 on May 13, 2009. H.R. 2378, like most bills, appeared to have died in committee.
As a means of incentivizing U.S. manufacturers, Halvorson has sponsored the Bonus Depreciation and Enhanced Expensing Extension Act (H.R. 4311), which would extend tax incentives that allow manufacturers to more quickly recover the cost of purchasing new equipment and machinery. Provisions from this bill are already in effect, although according to govtrack.com, no action has been taken on this bill since Dec. 15, 2009.
While the majority of Halvorson's bills are dead at committee, this is nothing unusual in Washington. The fact that we have a representative who knows what is necessary and is prepared to actually introduce legislation to address our problems is reassuring. She provides proof that there are members in Congress who do understand what is required, in the long run, to ensure the United States has a viable and competitive economy, and she is not the only one. All that is required of American citizens is to remain informed and put pressure on our leaders, even through a simple e-mail or phone call.