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Manufacturing Technology Competitiveness Act of 2005

Bill Summary and Status

Passed the House September 21, 2005

Press Release

H.R. 250 - Manufacturing Technology Competitiveness Act of 2005 - passed the U.S. House of Representatives today by a vote of 394-24. The legislation - which originated in the Science Committee - was initially designed to stimulate manufacturing, jobs and innovation in the U.S.

Calling it a "missed opportunity" for American workers, many Committee Democrats reluctantly supported the bill today because it funds the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) - a job creation program strongly supported by Committee Democrats - and it serves as the vehicle for authorization of programs under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

"This bill does some good, but American workers deserve better," stated Ranking Member Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN). "When the House has an opportunity to invest in programs like the clearly successful ATP program - a program that is producing jobs for American workers - logic says that's an opportunity not to be missed."

Read the complete press release »

Floor Action

Negotiators made some changes to the text of H.R. 250 as it emerged from the Science Committee's markup; this Managers' Amendment was accepted as the basic text for debate on the Floor. Included in the Managers' Amendment was language introduced by Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) to boost the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program to increase assistance to small businesses recovering from Hurricane Katrina's effects. Melancon's provision also directs the National Institute on Standards and Technology to evaluate how buildings and infrastructure withstood Katrina's force to determine what improvements will reduce the damage by future storms that will one day strike the United States.

Science Committee Democrats had a number of proposed improvements to bolster the support for America's manufacturing industries still lacking in H.R. 250 as it was considered on the House Floor. Committee Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) asked the House Rules Committee to permit unlimited debate and amendments in the rule governing consideration of the bill. The Rules Committee allowed only these Democratic amendments to be considered:

Democratic Amendments Approved
Gordon Adopted (voice)
Requires the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop a three-year plan for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program
Udall Failed (Yes-210, No-212)
Increases the authorization levels of NSF’s Advanced Technological Education Program for Fiscal Years 2006-2008
Jackson Lee Adopted (Yes-416, No-8)
Makes funds under the section entitled “Scientific and Technical Research and Services” available to the maximum extent practicable, to diverse institutions
Larson Failed (Yes-210, No-213)
Re-orients the current Technology Administration (TA), the Undersecretary of Technology, and Office of Technology Policy (OTP) towards manufacturing and competitiveness issues

The Rules Committee denied the House the opportunity to consider other Democratic amendments to reverse the short-sighted decision to cut funding for the Advanced Technology Program, to improve the recently-established advisory council on manufacturing, and to obtain reports on job-offshoring trends prepared by the Commerce Department at Congressional direction but published only in abbreviated form.

Democratic Amendments Excluded
Authorizes $140 million for the Advanced Technology Program for Fiscal Year 2006
Authorizes $20 million for the Advanced Technology Program to hold a competition and issue awards for research to improve energy efficient and reduce domestic dependence on gasoline and heating oil
Requires the Department of Commerce to release all staff reports done by Technology Administration staff relating to the off-shoring of American jobs
Strikes current language creating an Advisory Committee and establishes a Presidential Council on Manufacturing. Directs the Council to issue reports on selected topic areas and within 18 months issue a National Manufacturing Strategy

Read the Floor debate on the rule »

At the conclusion of debate on amendments, Mr. Honda of California offered a "motion to recommit," a parliamentary step Democrats used to include an authorization for the Advanced Technology Program. Mr. Honda proposed an authorization of $140 million in Fiscal Year 2006, the level already approved by the Senate in its Commerce-Justice-State appropriation bill. The motion was defeated by a vote of 196-226.

H.R. 250 was approved by a vote of 394-24.

Read the Floor debate on the bill »

Full Committee Consideration

Democrats offered six amendments at the Full Committee markup on May 4, 2005:

Democratic Amendments
Gordon Adopted (voice)
Ensure full funding for the network of MEP Centers
Read the debate »
Udall Adopted, as amended (voice)
Authorize funding for the Advanced Technological Education program and for the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council to enhance technical workforce education and development
Read the debate »
Carnahan Withdrawn
Establish a President's Manufacturing Council to develop a National Manufacturing Strategy
Read the debate »
Honda Failed (voice)
Authorize funding for the Advanced Technology Progran for Fiscal Years 2006-2008
Read the debate »
Costello Withdrawn
Require a study on the manufacturing and professional workforce to assess various trends relating to outsourcing for investment and re-employment
Read the debate »
Udall Failed (Yes-15, No-19)
Specifies funding levels for the Advanced Technology Program
Read the debate »

In the legislative report (House Report 109-92) describing the Committee's actions at markup, Democratic Members included the following statement concerning this legislation:

"After 8 years we are pleased that the Science Committee has decided to move an almost complete authorization for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). H.R. 250, the Manufacturing Technology Competitiveness Act of 2005, authorizes all of NIST's programs except for the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). We have always strongly supported NIST and fully recognize the importance of all of its programs to the U.S. industrial sector. However, H.R. 250 purports to be a bill to help the American manufacturing base. We feel that H.R. 250 falls far short of this goal.

"This is virtually the same bill that passed the Committee and House a year ago and that the Senate never took up. The U.S. manufacturing sector is facing a crisis - since 2001 we have lost 2.7 million manufacturing jobs. In the first three months of this year, we have lost another 24,000 manufacturing jobs. A year ago, the Administration announced its Manufacturing Initiative, the creation of an Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services supported by a $40 million-plus bureaucracy, and established a Manufacturing Council. Since these announcements, very little has been heard from these organizations. Aside from a single hearing in June 2003, the Science Committee has done little in the way of oversight or policy hearings on the manufacturing crisis. (Indeed, H.R. 250 little reflects the recommendations made at our only hearing.) While there is bipartisan agreement that the Federal Government needs to retain high-skill, high-pay, manufacturing jobs in the U.S., we are disappointed that this crisis has received so little attention from the Administration, the House, and the Senate...."

Subcommittee Consideration

H.R. 250 was amended at the Envionment, Technology and Standards Subcommittee markup on March 15, 2005.  Democratic staff worked with the Majority on a Chairman’s substitute to ensure adequate NIST lab and construction funding.  The Chairman’s substitute also removed from the bill as introduced a requirement to automatically re-compete all Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers if the funding fell below $106 million.  This provision was strongly opposed by MEP Centers, and last year’s Omnibus Appropriations bill included language which forbade any general recompetition for two years.

In addition, Republicans accepted Rep. Wu's amendment making it easier for the MEP to accept funds from other Federal agencies and outside groups. Republicans also accepted an Udall amendment for funding NSF’s Advanced Technology Education – although a Boehlert 2nd order amendment reduced the overall funding level.

H.R. 250, as amended, included:

  • 3 year authorization for the NIST labs based upon the FY06 request
  • 3 year authorization for NIST construction based on NIST’s construction plan
  • Authorizes MEP funding at FY06 - $110 million, FY07 - $115 million, and FY08 - $120 million; however this authorization includes a $4 million set aside (with inflationary increases) for a Competitive Grant Program for MEP centers
  • Creates a Collaborative Manufacturing Research Pilot Grants program within NIST funded at $10 million/year
  • Creates a Manufacturing Fellowship Program funded at FY06 - $1.5 million, FY07 - $1.75 million, and FY08 – 2.0 million
  • Creates an Interagency Committee on Manufacturing and an Advisory Committee – both of which already exist in slightly different form.

109th Congress