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Full Committee Markup<p><em>H. Res. 717, Directing the Secretary of Commerce to deliver a draft report on offshoring jobs</em></p>

Date: 
Wednesday, March 29, 2006 - 12:00am
Location: 
Washington, D.C.

Opening Statement By Hon. Bart Gordon

We all care about American jobs. Since the beginning of 2001, this country has lost almost 3 million manufacturing jobs.  When a manufacturing plant is closed or downsized, scientists and engineers lose their job, too.  Over 50% of the engineers employed in America work in manufacturing facilities.

So as this Committee prepares to move legislation addressing what we should do about American competitiveness and how do we attract young people to engineering and science, it seems absolutely essential that we have all the information at our disposal to guide our work.

I suppose some might say that they are not worried about jobs moving overseas.  But I know that for communities in Michigan and New York and Texas, where half a million manufacturing jobs have been lost, or in my home state of Tennessee, which has seen 62,000 jobs blow away, it is a very real problem.

If you are not worried, I think you should be.  Up to now, we have all thought about offshoring being largely confined to manufacturing.  But Alan Blinder, the former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, has estimated that between 28 and 42 million American jobs in the service sector may be offshored in the next few years.

In 2004, the Commerce Department’s Technology Administration (TA) produced a report on what is happening to the workforce as a result of changes in information technology and services, pharmaceuticals and semiconductors.  They also produced an analysis of the education and training programs in other countries for “knowledge” workers.  That report, as produced by the TA analysts, was approximately 200 pages in length.  Fifteen months after it was due, the Department finally released a twelve-page report summary.

My staff has interviewed the staff of TA who worked on the original report.  Some of the analysts feel that the report does not accurately reflect their case study findings.  None of the analysts even know where the five page introduction came from.

The analysts have never been able to show their original chapters to anyone outside the department - not even the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), which is supposed to pick up where the TA staff left off.  It is hard to see how they could pick up where TA left off when TA wasn’t allowed to give them their original research.  Further, lest you believe the quiet whispers from some Commerce Department appointees that the report was badly done, Members should know that analysts received a performance bonus after completing it.

I have been trying to get the original draft report for almost a year through every means available to me, but I have not been able to get the Chairman of this Committee or the Subcommittee of jurisdiction to join me.  It was with some reluctance that I filed a Resolution of Inquiry about this report to force the Committee to face up to its responsibility to learn as much as we can about what is happening to American jobs.

This Committee has jurisdiction over the Technology Administration.  We know they spent $335,000 producing their report.  The American public, and this Committee, deserve to see the full results of their work.

It is hard to see how we can be serious as a Committee about saying we want to address our competitive position if, in the next breath, we say we don’t want to see the most sophisticated analysis done by the government about what is happening with American jobs in high-tech fields.

The Chairman has claimed he has determined that this matter is not of high priority for the Committee.  I can’t speak for others, but for my constituents, jobs is their number one issue.  Last week a national poll found that outsourcing of jobs is the number one concern for people around the country, outpolling even the war in Iraq as an issue of concern.  All I ask of the Chairman is to sign a letter asking for this report in its fullest draft form.  How can the Committee be so busy that signing a letter is too burdensome?  Why don’t we want to learn everything we can, from any source, about trends that are driving Americans to worry about the future of their employment chances?

The Chairman claims that the NAPA study will answer all our questions so examining the work of Commerce is unnecessary.  Well, as I said, NAPA was not privileged to get access to the work of Commerce and so they are unaware of the research findings of TA.  Further, NAPA put out their first report in January and concluded they didn’t have enough data to say anything conclusive about offshoring and more research is needed.

NAPA has promised at least two more reports, but according to their staff these are likely to focus more on whether the US has a shortage of scientists and engineers and whether H-1B/L-1 scientists and engineers depress wages for American technical workers rather than delve more deeply into offshoring.  Finally, even if NAPA were to do this work, why would that be an argument not to see what our own government’s analysts, using tax dollars, found when they investigated the issue?  I don’t know how else to say it, but what NAPA is or isn’t doing is a red herring in this argument.

We should get a copy of the full report.  This is a necessary step to inform our legislative record and to carry out our oversight responsibility over the Executive branch.

If you care about keeping good, high-paying jobs in the U.S. and believe we need to base policy on as much information as possible, then please join me in supporting this resolution.  If you think the loss of jobs is not something to worry about then oppose it.

If you care about protecting the right of Congress to stand up to the Executive and ask for documents and accountability for tax-dollars spent, you should support this resolution.  If you just want to trust someone who whispers in our ear that you don’t really need to know what government experts have to say - from the same folks who brought you the Dubai ports deal, have refused Republican Senators information related to Hurricane Katrina and have refused to stay at Senate hearings to answer questions - then oppose this resolution.

Download the opening statement text.


Opening Statement By Hon. Jerry Costello

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  As you may know, Ranking Member Gordon is on his way to the markup and I am pleased to have this opportunity to preside until he arrives.

Today our Committee will have the opportunity to discuss and vote on a very important issue that affects my congressional district in Southern Illinois and every congressional district in the country.  The issue I speak of is job stability and employment prospects.  Over the last five years, 158,800 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Illinois, adding to the national total of nearly three million manufacturing jobs lost since 2001.  Many additional jobs have been lost in the service industry; just look at the growth of IT help desks in India for an example of this.

The future employment in America and the current experiences of our workers and families is a high priority for me.  We need to have a better understanding of: Why are jobs going off-shore?  Why are manufacturing jobs declining?  Why is our workforce losing its competitive edge in the global marketplace?

As a matter of fact, Congress has asked for specific details and information from Federal experts on this alarming trend.  As you may recall, Congress passed a Consolidated Appropriations bill in fiscal year 2004 that directed the Technology Administration to undertake a study on "the extent and implications of workforce globalization in knowledge-based industries such as life science, information technology, semiconductors and financial services."  The report was due by June 23, 2004, and a 200-page report that represents the most sophisticated examination yet by Federal experts on the trend of jobs moving offshore was completed, with taxpayer moneyHowever, the Department of Commerce refuses to hand over the draft report.  Instead, they have released a 12-page summary that reportedly scrubs out "bad news" observations from the larger report.

We want to see the original 200-page draft Technology Administration report to better understand why American jobs are moving offshore.  For almost a year, Democrats have been asking for the Commerce report at the staff level and then sent a letter to the Secretary of Commerce asking for the report.  Commerce did not respond.  Ranking Member Gordon, Congressman Wu, and myself have asked Chairman Boehlert and Congressman Ehlers to co-sign a letter asking for the release of the final Commerce report - they were not willing to sign.

The Resolution of Inquiry is the final effort to get the report released.  It is not meant to embarrass anyone, just to let us have access to a report funded by taxpayer dollars.  The resolution simply asks the Secretary of Commerce to transmit a copy of the workforce globalization final draft report produced by the Technology Administration to the House of Representatives.  This is an issue of Congressional versus Executive Branch authority.  Why can't we simply examine a report done by Commerce Department analysts?  Why should we show such deference to the Administration in their refusal to provide us with the report?  This is exactly the kind of work the committees are supposed to engage in.

Let's do our jobs for the American people.  As Congress works to improve America's competitive position globally, information is our best weapon.  Uncovering the driving forces pushing American jobs to foreign countries is information Congress must have as we push for solutions to help hardworking Americans.

Mr. Chairman, my constituents deserve to know the facts on an issue where data is sorely lacking.  As we work toward a smarter, sharper and more competitive workforce, it only makes sense that we have access to the best information.  The Technology Administration report is the most complete analysis by any government agency of this phenomenon.  I urge my colleagues to support the resolution of inquiry.


Opening Statement By Hon. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member.

The House Committee on Science has had a long-standing interest in directing policies that grow and sustain a high-technology workforce.

High-tech jobs foster a better quality of life for Americans and offer higher pay, better benefits and greater job stability.

In recent years, numerous reports have asserted that America is losing jobs - both blue-collar and high-tech positions.  Outsourcing has greatly diminished our manufacturing sector. Nations such as India have surpassed us in the information technology service industry.

No states have felt the pinch of the loss of outsourced high-tech jobs as acutely as the states of California and my home State of Texas.

Last year the American Electronics Association released a report saying that all but four states experienced a loss of high-tech jobs.  The biggest losers were California, which cut 67,800 jobs in 2003, followed by Texas, which lost 32,900 high-tech jobs due to outsourcing.

Congress has asked for credible information as to the true situation regarding outsourcing of jobs.  The Department of Commerce, a Federal agency funded by the American public, has performed an investigation as to this very issue.

At a cost of $335,000 taxpayer dollars, the Department of Commerce Technology Administration assigned at least five analysts for six months to produce a report on the status of U.S. employment in knowledge-intensive industries.

Mr. Chairman, the American public has paid for a study on high-tech job outsourcing, but for some reason, the Technology Administration will not release this report.

While it is unfortunate that the Committee will not work in a bipartisan fashion to request this report, I support Ranking Member Gordon's premise that $335,000 in taxpayer dollars should not be wasted.  I will support this Resolution of Inquiry on principle.

My constituents, and every Member's constituents in this room, deserve access to the Technology Administration's report.

The data in that report can help Members of Congress enact well-informed policies to bring high-tech jobs back home - where they belong.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back the remainder of my time.


Opening Statement By Hon. David Wu

Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.  It amazes me that a simple request for a report, that we rightfully have jurisdiction over, can come up against such fierce opposition.  The United States is losing jobs to offshoring as we speak, and this report sheds light on the reasons why.  It also may not provide any more information than what we already know, but isn't the point that we get a chance to find out?

This is a matter of good governance.  We need to be able to stay informed with the most up-to-date and in-depth information out there.  We also need the chance to judge for ourselves whether the importance of certain data is valid.  Any less would be neglecting our duties.

It also troubles me to learn about the process in which a detailed, thorough 200-page report gets chopped down to a 12-page summary.  Who or what was the impetus of this action?  And who had oversight to what information was omitted or retained?  What is in there that is so important to hide and for us not to see?  There is no way to know until we see the original draft.

As I have stated before, I am very disturbed by the continuing reports of manipulation of science advisory committees, suppression of information, and censorship of Federal scientists.  These reports are not restricted to one agency or department and they encompass a wide range of topic areas.  Although the Administration claims these events are random, the sheer number and distribution of complaints across the Federal Government suggests an overall political agenda to science.  It is unfortunate that we seem to be facing a similar situation today under our own roof, our own jurisdiction.

I have spoken in Committee with witnesses concerning the issue of scientific integrity, including Mr. Jeff Ruch from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on March 16th.  He spoke of reports languishing in the Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies, for many years.  Why does that withholding or delaying problem seem oddly resonant with this current report about offshoring?

A more egregious example of how this intimidation can affect research for policy is with the graduate student at Oregon State University who was basically persecuted for telling the truth with his findings.  His research showed conclusions that went against established practice of the Bureau of Land Management.  In return the BLM decided to freeze the grant behind that particular OSU study.  After a national firestorm of protest, the BLM reinstated the funding, but this shows how politically motivated research funding has become.

It is time that we end this "Big Brother" choke-hold on science and scientists.  It is time for the truth to come out unfettered.  We have a job to do here in this Committee.  So let us do it.  I urge my colleagues to vote to report this Resolution of Inquiry favorably to the House.


Opening Statement By Hon. Mike Honda

Ordinarily I would thank the Chairman for holding this hearing today, but I know that he would rather not be doing it; that we are here today only because the Rules of the House dictate that the Committee must act on this Resolution.

I cannot understand why the Chairman has taken this position, however.  All we are asking for with this resolution is to read a report paid for by the American taxpayers, that was written by United States Government employees, at the request of a Member of Congress.

The report pertains to a vitally important topic, the outsourcing of U.S. jobs.  In my congressional district, many manufacturing and high-tech workers have lost their jobs since President Bush took office, and many of those jobs are believed to have been moved overseas.  Many questions remain about the number of jobs that have been outsourced, why jobs are being outsourced, and what we might do in terms of policy to reverse this disturbing trend.  The report by the Department of Commerce's Technology Administration we are seeking access to, Six-Month Assessment of Workforce Globalization in Certain Knowledge-Based Industries, can provide valuable insight into this issue.

As we develop legislation to ensure U.S. competitiveness in a global economy, we should gather information from every source possible, especially one prepared by our own government using taxpayer funds at the request of this body.  The Department of Commerce must have thought highly of the work, since it gave those who worked on it bonuses.  And yet for some reason we find our Chairman failing to do the oversight we are charged with as part of our job as Members of Congress and not seeking a report prepared by a Federal agency.

I am baffled at how any Member of this committee could vote against this resolution, which simply seeks to ensure that we have access to all of the information possible as we develop legislation to address the problem highlighted in this report.  To do so is to ignore our responsibility as Members of Congress to exert oversight over the Executive Branch.


Opening Statement By Hon. Sheila Jackson Lee

Chairman Boehlert, Ranking Member Gordon, thank you for organizing this important hearing to discuss this bill, H. Res. 717, Directing the Secretary of Commerce to transmit to the House of Representatives a copy of a workforce globalization final draft report produced by the Technology Administration.

This Committee has gathered today because the Administration is so fearful of isolationism and protectionism that they won't even release a completed report on the subject that has already been conducted.  We have only seen 12 pages of the final 200-page report that cost taxpayers $335,000.  I do not understand the motivation behind keeping Congress in the dark as it relates to the American economy and American jobs.  This Committee has not gathered to debate a legislative response to offshoring; we are only asking that we be allowed to be fully educated on the issue so that our future course of action is based upon good and full information.  I feel that we deserve the full truth about this issue.

Specifically, the report is the most thorough examination to date by the U.S. Government examining the factors driving U.S. jobs "offshore."  We do not have more information on what those factors are, because we have not seen the report.

President Bush recently said in a press conference "we shouldn't allow isolationism and protectionism to overwhelm us."  This statement, which echoed the President's statements in the State of the Union address, should be agreed upon by Members from both sides of the aisle.  Few believe that America should shut its doors to the great tide of globalization and all the prosperity it offers.  But globalization can often come at a price, and the actions that Congress takes must be carefully weighed in order to ensure fairness in the process.  For example, globalization must never be allowed to take precedent over American security, and U.S. companies should not be given extra incentive for relocating jobs abroad.  Further, the United States policy should never encourage developing nations to destroy their land through irresponsible environmental action, or abuse their population by subjecting them to child slave-labor or inhumane working conditions.

As it relates to the report in question, some U.S. policies are reported to actually encourage and reward overseas investments.  For example:

  • The relatively weak requirements for U.S. firms, compared with European counterparts, to pay severance or negotiate with unions over plans to move jobs overseas.
  • Overseas Private Investment Corporation insurance for corporations investing abroad.
  • Treaties that protect U.S. investors against host-government actions - including public interest laws - that diminish profits.

As Congress works to improve America's competitive position globally, information is our best weapon.  Uncovering the driving forces pushing American jobs to foreign countries is information Congress must have as we work toward solutions to help hardworking Americans.

Job stability and employment prospects affect every single American.  My constituents, indeed, ALL AMERICANS, deserve to know the facts on an issue where data is sorely lacking.  As we continue to evolve into a smarter, sharper and more competitive American workforce, it only makes sense that we have access to the best information.  I urge my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to put aside our partisan differences and vote to compel the Secretary of Commerce to release the full draft report.  Thank you, and I yield the remainder of my time.

Bill Number Legislative Report Markup Transcript
H. Res. 717109-415Read here

Opening Statement by Mr. Gordon


Roll-Call Votes

On the Motion to Adopt the Resolution, H.Res. 717
[Motion Failed]

Member Yes No Not
voting
Present
Boehlert (R-NY)   X    
Hall (R-TX)   X    
Smith (R-TX)     X  
Weldon (R-PA)   X    
Rohrabacher (R-CA)   X    
Calvert (R-CA)   X    
Bartlett (R-MD)   X    
Ehlers (R-MI)   X    
Gutknecht (R-MN)   X    
Lucas (R-OK)   X    
Biggert (R-IL)     X  
Gilchrest (R-MD)   X    
Akin (R-MO)   X    
Johnson (R-IL)   X    
Forbes (R-VA)   X    
Bonner (R-AL)     X  
Feeney (R-FL)   X    
Inglis (R-SC)   X    
Reichert (R-WA)   X    
Sodrel (R-IN)   X    
Schwarz (R-MI)   X    
McCaul (R-TX)   X    
Member Yes No Not
voting
Present
Gordon (D-TN) X      
Costello (D-IL) X      
Johnson (D-TX)     X  
Woolsey (D-CA) X      
Hooley (D-OR) X      
Udall (D-CO)     X  
Wu (D-OR) X      
Honda (D-CA) X      
Miller (D-NC) X      
Davis (D-TN) X      
Lipinski (D-IL) X      
Jackson Lee (D-TX) X      
Sherman (D-CA) X      
Baird (D-WA)     X  
Matheson (D-UT) X      
Costa (D-CA) X      
Green (D-NY) X      
Melancon (D-LA)     X  
Moore (D-KS)     X  
TOTAL 14 19 8  
Attest: David A. Mayorga (Clerk)

On the Motion to Adversely Report the Resolution to the House
[Motion Failed]

Member Yes No Not
voting
Present
Boehlert (R-NY) X      
Hall (R-TX)     X  
Smith (R-TX)     X  
Weldon (R-PA) X      
Rohrabacher (R-CA) X      
Calvert (R-CA) X      
Bartlett (R-MD) X      
Ehlers (R-MI) X      
Gutknecht (R-MN) X      
Lucas (R-OK) X      
Biggert (R-IL)     X  
Gilchrest (R-MD) X      
Akin (R-MO) X      
Johnson (R-IL)     X  
Forbes (R-VA) X      
Bonner (R-AL)     X  
Feeney (R-FL) X      
Inglis (R-SC) X      
Reichert (R-WA) X      
Sodrel (R-IN) X      
Schwarz (R-MI) X      
McCaul (R-TX) X      
Member Yes No Not
voting
Present
Gordon (D-TN)   X    
Costello (D-IL)   X    
Johnson (D-TX)     X  
Woolsey (D-CA)   X    
Hooley (D-OR)   X    
Udall (D-CO)     X  
Wu (D-OR)   X    
Honda (D-CA)   X    
Miller (D-NC)   X    
Davis (D-TN)   X    
Lipinski (D-IL)   X    
Jackson Lee (D-TX)   X    
Sherman (D-CA)   X    
Baird (D-WA)   X    
Matheson (D-UT)   X    
Costa (D-CA)   X    
Green (D-NY)   X    
Melancon (D-LA)   X    
Moore (D-KS)   X    
TOTAL 17 17 7  
Attest: David A. Mayorga (Clerk)
109th Congress