Hartford Courant: Murphy Introduces ‘American Jobs’ Act In Senate

June 28 2013

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After two failed attempts in the House, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy this week introduced a bill in the Senate that would require the U.S. Defense Department, when awarding contracts, to consider how its choice would affect American jobs.

Murphy, who touted a "Buy American" agenda in his campaign for U.S. Senate and his earlier tenure in the U.S. House, on Friday announced he had introduced the American Jobs Matter Act in the Senate on Thursday.

He said the bill aims to help U.S. defense manufacturers and suppliers compete with foreign companies by having the Department of Defense consider job growth when choosing a contractor.

"We should have a simple rule in this country, that when we purchase things for the U.S. government — in particular, the U.S. military — that we should give preference to U.S. companies," Murphy said at the conference. "That has not been the case."

An existing Buy American Act requires the use of domestic manufacturers and materials for at least 50 percent of a public works project, but Murphy said it contains loopholes that render it meaningless.

He said that any short-term cost savings to taxpayers from choosing a lower bid from overseas are canceled out by the loss of Social Security taxes and income taxes when factory workers lose their jobs.

At a morning press conference in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Murphy was joined by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, an original co-sponsor of the bill, which has been introduced twice in the House of Representatives. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Jeff Merkley D-Oregon, are also co-sponsors.

Roughly 10 business owners and employees were also there to support the bill.

"There's a big gaping hole in the middle of our factory where our machinists used to be," said Karen Blanchard, an employee of 26 years at Hamilton Sundstrand, now UTC Aerospace Systems. "The hollowing out of our manufacturing jobs has to stop."

Murphy said opposition to his "Buy American" initiative has come from members of Congress overly focused on the bottom line of the defense budget, those who ideologically support free trade, and big defense companies.