This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) that would have required the Defense Department to ensure that all Defense contractors at military installations in the United States set aside 40 percent their subcontracting work for local qualified subcontractors (subcontractors within 60 miles of the military installation). This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Garamendi urged support for his amendment: “This is about local jobs for local companies. Many of us have in our districts military facilities of large and small size. All too often those facilities and the work done on those facilities, performed by contractors, often national contractors, totally ignores and provides little or no opportunity for local subcontractors. This amendment would simply require that for prime contractors on military installations across this nation they would be required to allow 40 percent of their contracts, by dollar value, to be available for local subcontractors. Not a bad idea, it seems to me. I know that, in my area of Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, there are constant--constant--complaints from local contractors that the big boys come in, hog all the work, and leave nothing behind except a few more burgers bought at McDonald's. Not good enough. This amendment deals with that issue by providing local contractors, often Republican contractors, the opportunity to have work in their communities, and `local' is defined as within 60 miles of the base.”
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) opposed the amendment: “…I have to oppose the gentleman from California's amendment. While it is straightforward, it is bad policy, quite frankly….You can't fence out competition. I understand that folks don't like to compete. This morning at baseball practice for the Republicans, we had a bunch of new guys out of the 87, and the coach said, Folks, all nine positions are up for competition. Well, I'm No. 2 on the depth chart. I'm not real happy about that, but it spurred me to compete better for that position. Competition works. It works for the big guys, and it works for the little guys. To arbitrarily and capriciously set a 60-mile perimeter around a military base and say 40 percent of everything has to be provided to the folks inside that is wrong-headed, so I oppose this amendment.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 168-256. 162 Democrats—including a majority of progressives--and 6 Republicans voted “yea.” 230 Republicans and 26 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have required the Defense Department to ensure that all Defense contractors at military installations in the United States set aside 40 percent their subcontracting work for local qualified subcontractors.