This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) that would have authorized the Defense Department to consider domestic employment as a factor when awarding contracts to outside companies. (For example, the Defense Department could take into account whether awarding a contract to a certain company could result in American jobs being moved overseas.) This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Murphy urged support for his amendment: “We have, over the last 10 years, lost 42,000 factories in this country. We have lost 5 million jobs in manufacturing. And we've had a long discussion here in this Congress over the past 3 years as to what we can do to stimulate that engine of middle class job growth and security. This amendment seeks to increase our defense industrial capacity without spending any additional money. What the amendment before us simply allows is for the federal government to be able to…the amount of jobs being created here in the United States by a particular bid for U.S. defense work. Frankly, most of my constituents think this already happens. Most of my constituents think that there is an ability for the federal government today to factor in, when awarding a particular bid, which bid is going to create more jobs here in the United States versus overseas….This seems like common sense to me. The reason to make sure that our taxpayer dollars are spent through the Defense Department on U.S. jobs is certainly economic in nature. At 9 percent unemployment, we should be better stewards of U.S. taxpayer dollars, on making sure that to the extent possible they are spent on U.S. jobs.”
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) opposed the amendment: “I do oppose the gentleman from Connecticut's amendment on the grounds that it's really bad policy. Having spent several years working with the acquisition system, that is relatively complicated throughout the Department of Defense, to add one more layer of considerations to that system is, in my view, wrongheaded….At the end of the day, at the beginning of the day, whatever part of the day you want to talk about, acquisition by the Department of Defense should be about something this straightforward. It should be about buying the gear, the equipment, and the goods and services our warfighters need at the time they need it at a price that is appropriate for the taxpayer to pay. And while jobs get created under that circumstance, that should not be a consideration as to what the warfighter needs, how we get it, how it's acquired, and that process.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 208-212. 183 Democrats and 25 Republicans voted “yea.” 208 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have authorized the Defense Department to consider domestic employment as a factor when awarding contracts to outside companies.