Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would prohibit funds in the bill from being used for the Northwest Manufacturing Initiative, which receives $2.5 million in this defense bill.
What is the Northwest Manufacturing Initiative? Where is the money going? To the northwest of what? Of the United States? Of Arizona? Of Washington, DC.?
There is no description of this project in the committee report. It strikes me again, why can't Members get more information on these projects beforehand? We made calls to the Department of Defense, which funds this earmark. They knew nothing. They didn't get back to us with anything. Calls were unanswered. We asked the Appropriations Committee as well, and we couldn't get anything from the Appropriations Committee before we filed the amendment to be offered here. It was only after the amendment
was filed that those who are sponsoring the earmark called to tell us what the amendment is about.
It is the Northwest portion of the United States, I come to understand, and it is a manufacturing initiative, but we don't know much else about it. [Page: H4305]
A few of the Members have been kind enough to share with me today what they are seeking to do. My understanding is that businesses in the Northwest, particularly those that contract with the United States Government, the Department of Defense and others, some are having difficulty, as they are in many parts
of the country.
My question is, why in the defense bill are we offering help to manufacturing companies in the Northwest? What about the Southeast or the Southwest? What about companies in Arizona or California or Colorado? Why don't they get similar treatment? How does the Federal Government decide, all right, we are going to help manufacturing companies there, but not here? Again, we are picking winners and losers here. It is not the job and should not be the job of the Federal Government.
I appreciate the fact there are Members here willing to defend this amendment. My good friend Mr. Blumenauer is here to do so and others, and I appreciate that. In this way we can actually have a dialogue.
Again, sometimes this is the only oversight, the only explanation. This is it. This is all we get on some of these earmarks. I feel it is important when we are spending taxpayer dollars, particularly $2.5 million in the defense bill, that it is important to know what it is going for. So I am glad the authors of the amendment are here, and I look forward to the explanation.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I welcome the gentleman's opportunity to engage in what, in fact, the proposal is about, because there was a rather detailed proposal that was extended to the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. It is cosponsored by the entire House delegation, 10 Northwest Representatives and Senators, a bipartisan effort, and it is dealing with the need to be able to have a bistate program to help support a strong defense industrial base.
It contributes directly to our national defense. We have outlined how it helps in terms of providing research and development on the reliability, cost-effectiveness and environmental performance of products designed specifically for the defense marketplace. It increases the ability to deal with workforce, to provide the products, to expand the reach of high-performance manufacturing techniques, and create more efficient and competitive companies in the defense sector, and to build the capacity
of small and medium-sized companies to participate in this marketplace.
This is precisely the sort of thing that I think we would want to have to help the defense opportunities, not just in the Pacific Northwest, but to be able to scale it and take it in other parts of the country.
I could go on at great length. I will not, because I have been admonished that time is short and because others from the Northwest who are part of this are here.
But let me just say that I have been struck by, and one of the reasons I have been working on this for some time is the ability of small companies that I work with to make a difference, and that we have great difficulty in terms of scaling and being able to help them perform in this arena.
In my district we have Danner Boots, which far exceeds the capacity of the specifications that the Department of Defense requests. Our soldiers would be safer. In fact, that is the boot of choice for people who have young men and women going to Iraq.
We have had the same consortium develop HemCon Bandages, which have an amazing capacity to accelerate the clotting. In fact, it is the consensus that our troops should all be provided with this when they go overseas.
We have got small companies that are dealing with technology that others are going to speak to that I won't go into that are all a part of this consortium.
Last but not least, the notion here is having skin in the game. Well, this is matched by a 50 percent match by local sources. It is a public-private partnership where we are not looking for something that has dropped out of the sky, but is matched by the Federal Government. I think anybody who reviews this proposal will find that it is cost-effective, that it is important for the Defense Department, that it builds on proven technologies and opportunities and speaks to gaps that need to be filled,
and will have application not just for the Department of Defense, but for others that work to serve it.
So, in the interest of time, I will conclude on that point and invite anybody to look at this proposal that has been offered by my colleagues from the Northwest. I think they will be satisfied that there will be full value offered, and it is worthy of support.
Ms. HOOLEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, I rise today in opposition to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Arizona to strike the funding for the Northwest Manufacturing Initiative.
The Northwest Manufacturing Initiative encompasses Oregon and southwest Washington. The initiative is organized as a regional coalition, and its purpose is to make the Northwest region's diverse manufacturing sector a stronger contributor to the Nation's defense and national security.
The initiative seeks to provide to the Defense Department a coordinated, regional resource for assessing products and services being offered by the private sector that meets our Nation's future defense needs. A key goal of the initiative is to increase the contribution of the Northwest coast to the Nation's industrial preparedness and security. A focus of this project is to assist small and medium-sized manufacturers to become providers of products to defense contractors.
My colleague talked about HemCon; he talked about another company, Danner Boots. I could name several companies. There is another company, Hydration, which allows you with a membrane to fill water into this CamelBak and give you clean drinking water from the filthiest water you can find. Those are the kind of companies. These are small, innovative companies. This is where we get our innovation.
The Oregon Manufacturing Initiative is a key component of the Oregon business plan and economic development plans in communities across Oregon and southwest Washington. Local, regional and State funding has been used to plan and develop the initiative.
As manufacturing has declined in many parts of the Nation, it has become more urgent that small to medium-sized companies are mobilized to provide the necessary goods demanded by a modern military and the Nation's security. Through the Northwest Manufacturing Initiative, the Defense Department will have a one-stop resource when it needs information on what companies are providing to meet defense needs or when it seeks critical manufacturing research and development.
The Northwest Manufacturing Initiative is a regional model designed to create efficiencies and cost savings. While I appreciate the intentions of the gentleman from Arizona, I must urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and ask they support this worthwhile project.
Mr. BAIRD. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the intent of the gentleman from Arizona, but I rise to join my colleagues in explaining why this is so important.
We have talked about boots, we have talked about hydration systems. This same coalition is involved with making some of the finest combat knives in the world; laser sights, laser devices that can help protect aviation or even possibly one day shoot down missiles; adhesive armor, to up-armor Humvees in 4 hours to save our soldiers' lives.
The gentleman from Arizona said we don't pick winners and losers. In fact, we do. If you vote against this provision and for your amendment, you will pick our soldiers as losers. This is about providing resources to help small businesses and medium-sized businesses get state-of-the-art equipment to our soldiers.
I don't know if you have had the occasion to meet with a midsized growing business that makes this kind of equipment, but talking to them and the challenges they face in working with defense procurement proposals, defense procurement procedures and other needs are very difficult challenges. I think it is entirely appropriate that the Federal Government participate in this, along with the match that was described earlier, because this is a program that could well be a model for the [Page:
country, that will produce more effective business results and better products for our soldiers.
One final statement I would just make: We talk in this body a lot about dynamic scoring of tax cuts. There is also dynamic scoring of expenditures. I would submit to the gentleman from Arizona and to all my colleagues that for a small amount of money, we are going to stimulate manufacturing of state-of-the-art devices and equipment that will save our soldiers' lives and save this government money over the long run.
This is a good proposal, an innovative proposal, and good products that will save the lives of our soldiers will result from it. I urge a ``no'' vote on this amendment.