What: All Issues : Labor Rights : A vote on passage of a Democratic amendment to S. 2400 - legislation outlining Defense Department spending priorities for fiscal year 2005 - allowing waivers of the Buy America Act (instructing that U.S. defense procurement be made domestically) only in limited circumstances. (2004 senate Roll Call 135)
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A vote on passage of a Democratic amendment to S. 2400 - legislation outlining Defense Department spending priorities for fiscal year 2005 - allowing waivers of the Buy America Act (instructing that U.S. defense procurement be made domestically) only in limited circumstances.
senate Roll Call 135     Jun 22, 2004
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

Debate over S. 2400 - legislation outlining Defense Department spending priorities for fiscal year 2005 - included an intense debate on defense procurement. That debate began when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., added a provision to the Armed Services Committee-approved bill that would allow the Defense secretary to waive (disregard) Buy America laws for 21 allies that have agreed to "reciprocal" trade with the United States in other areas. During Senate floor debate on S. 2400, Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), backed by progressives, offered an amendment striking that language and maintaining current law, which allows waivers of Buy America laws only in limited circumstances. Buy America, which has been the law of the land for 70 years, instructs the defense department to procure its equipment domestically, although the Defense secretary is at liberty to grant waivers if there are not products available that are of the right quality, if there is a delay in obtaining them, if the prices are not competitive, or if there are any factors at all that would harm U.S. national defense. Conservatives, led by McCain and Senate Armed Service Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) balked at Dayton's proposal, and the two Republicans proposed a compromise: reducing the number of countries granted waivers in the bill from 21 to seven, or only those countries that have signed "declarations of principles" with the Pentagon committing to purchases of certain defense equipment. "The last thing we need to do is throw sand in the face of our allies," said McCain. And McCain and Warner argued that the United States would have more to lose than to gain if it were to fail to further open up defense trade. But Dayton argued that a prudent approach to waiving Buy America laws was important to maintain or improve the U.S. advantage in defense trade and to preserve U.S. jobs. In this vote, the Senate adopted the McCain substitute, 54-46, rendering the Dayton amendment moot, meaning the U.S. Defense Department will not be required to make its equipment purchases within the United States under this bill, except as stipulated in the McCain-Warner compromise.

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