My grandfather and great-grandfather worked in the ball bearing factories of New Britain. Today, though those jobs are gone, manufacturing is coming back in Connecticut, and the federal government can play a leading role in giving this renaissance a boost.
Here in Connecticut, manufacturing is driven by our defense and aerospace sectors. That’s the main reason I fought for a seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee –the first Connecticut senator on this powerful committee in over 30 years. During my time in the House and Senate, I have been a strong voice for Connecticut manufacturers and have supported the programs fueled by Connecticut companies like Pratt and Whitney (East Hartford and Middletown), Electric Boat (Groton), and Sikorsky (Stratford). In the past few years, these companies have been awarded new contracts for jet engines, helicopters, and submarines, which have stimulated a recent boost in new jobs for those companies and their thousands of suppliers across the state.
To make sure government contracts result in work for the thousands of smaller factories and machine shops in our state, I am the leading proponent of fixing our Buy American laws. These laws are designed to ensure taxpayer dollars purchase goods made by American workers, but they are riddled with loopholes and don’t even take into account the impact on American jobs. I’ve written multiple bills to help change that, including the American Jobs Matter Act, the 21st Century Buy American Act and the BuyAmerican.gov Act.
These bills would make commonsense changes like make all requests for waivers to the Buy American Act publicly available, and require the Department of Defense to measure, for the first time, U.S. jobs as a factor in awarding a government contract. They would eliminate automatic waivers that allow for U.S. jobs to be outsourced without any way for domestic manufacturers to compete– which the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute estimates would create an estimated 100,000 American jobs.
Since coming to the Senate, I’ve already achieved some victories on my Buy American crusade. The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act included my “Buy American” provision, which requires increased transparency when the Department of Defense purchasing good overseas. I have also reached across the aisle, working with the Trump administration and Republican Senator Rob Portman on the BuyAmerican.gov Act. I’m hopeful that we can continue to make progress this year on passing Buy American legislation.
My other priority for Connecticut manufacturing is increasing the training opportunities for our prospective manufacturing workforce. With all this new defense work coming to our state, the only thing that can stop our state from adding thousands of new manufacturing jobs is not having the workers ready to fill them. That’s why I have secured several major federal grants for new training programs in Connecticut, including funding for the Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline that has helped train and find jobs for 1,000 workers at Electric Boat and submarine suppliers. Federal funding has also helped the state open new manufacturing training programs at almost a dozen community-technical colleges across the state. That’s fantastic news for Connecticut residents looking for a career in manufacturing.
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