Democratic Senators Introduce Supply Chain Resiliency Act

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Nov 03 2021 |
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The new legislation aims to “reduce our reliance on long supply chains and ensure that critical products are made in America.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and a group of her Democratic colleagues introduced a new measure on Wednesday designed to alleviate the ongoing supply chain crisis and strengthen American manufacturing of critical products.

The Supply Chain Resiliency Act would create a new office at the Commerce Department that would be tasked with “monitoring, researching, and addressing vulnerable supply chains,” according to a Baldwin press release. The “Office of Supply Chain Resiliency” would be able to provide loans and grants to small and medium manufacturers to help expand production of critical products in the supply chain.

Baldwin said:

“Our Made in America economy has been neglected, exposing us to shocks that leave us unable to produce or acquire the things we need, putting our health, economy, and security at risk. Supply chain disruptions have caused price spikes for some consumer goods. My legislation can help address these issues in the short term and put us in a stronger position going forward.”

Cosponsors of the bill include Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

The legislation, which has the backing of the United Steelworkers (USW) and AFL-CIO, would also include strong labor protections “as a condition of expansion support.” USW President Tom Conway noted that these provisions are “common-sense” and will “ensure workers have a voice on the job, reflecting the vital role good, community-sustaining jobs play in building and maintaining steady supply chains.”

While there are a number of reasons for the current supply chain issues — the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic among them — there’s little doubt that the offshoring of so much critical manufacturing over the past two decades has played a big part. As AAM President Scott Paul told lawmakers a few weeks ago, the United States “left its capacities incredibly thin,” which meant it was unable to properly respond in a crisis.

“So, when we face these black swan events, like a public health crisis, or a natural disaster that disrupts supply chains, or political risks coming from the communist party of China, it shows how exposed we are,” Paul said.

The good news is that there is widespread recognition that there is a problem, and that reshoring critical manufacturing needs to be part of the solution.

Now it’s time for policymakers to get to work, including through a rebalance of trade and strategic investments in critical areas, from semiconductors and lithium ion batteries to all things clean energy, like wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles. The approach introduced by Baldwin and her Democratic colleagues also seems like an idea worth pursuing.

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