WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Andrews successfully attached an amendment to a Pentagon budget bill Wednesday that would pressure foreign governments to end subsidies he claims eliminated tens of thousands of U.S. shipbuilding jobs.
The measure, attached to the House Armed Services Committee’s $274 billion Pentagon budget, was introduced to benefit Bath Iron Works, aides to the congressman said.
They predicted the amendment would face a withering barrage from Japanese, Korean and German lobbyists. The shipbuilding and repair industries in those countries are heavily subsidized, according to Andrews.
His amendment would prevent ships built with foreign subsidies from docking at any U.S. port until the subsidy is repaid. The law would apply only to ships built after Oct. 16, 1991.
Andrews accused the Reagan-Bush administrations of “sitting on its hands” for the last 10 years while 120,000 American shipbuilding jobs fell victim to foreign competition, much of which was unfairly subsidized.
“The shipyard workers at Bath Iron Works are the best in the world,” Andrews said, “but they cannot compete with entire governments and subsidies they provide for their shipyards and their workers. It’s simply not fair.”
The defense bill reported out by the House committee also would repeal an unpopular user fee on recreational boats.
The House Pentagon funding bill is $7 billion less than President George Bush proposed for fiscal 1993.
Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the committee’s budget would force 300,000 uniformed men and women out of work.
The House Pentagon bill authorized the construction of up to 20 B-2 bombers; allocated $4.3 billion for the Strategic Defense Initiative; cut the Air Force’s request for C-17 transport planes; and reduced the size of proposed National Guard cutbacks, proposing a reduction of 66,947 instead of the Bush administration target of 115,997.
The committee’s proposed reduction for the Army National Guard is 11,200. The Pentagon had sought 48,100.