WASHINGTON, DC --- Today [Sept. 7], U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) delivered the following statement on the floor of the Senate regarding the FY 2007 Defense Appropriations Bill:
“I’d also like to discuss the Buy America restrictions that cost the Department of Defense and the American taxpayers. Like in previous appropriations bills, this year’s bill imposes a number of Buy America restrictions.
For example, the bill would prevent the purchase of ball bearings unless domestically produced. It requires that welded shipboard anchor and mooring chain be manufactured in the United States. Another section prohibits the Department of Defense from purchasing supercomputers from a foreign source.
Mr. President, I continue to be very concerned about the potential impact on readiness of our restrictive trade policies with our allies. From a philosophical point of view, I oppose these types of protectionist policies. I believe free trade is an important element in improving relations among all nations and essential to economic growth. From a practical standpoint, "Buy America" restrictions could seriously impair our ability to compete freely in international markets and also could result in the loss of existing business from long-standing trade partners.
Some legislative enactments over the past several years have had the effect of establishing a monopoly for a domestic supplier in certain product lines. This not only adds to the pressure for our allies to "Buy European" but it also raises the costs of procurement for DOD and cuts off access to potential state-of-the-art technologies. DOD should have the ability to make purchases from a second source in an allied country covered by a defense cooperation Memorandum of Understanding when only one domestic source exists. This would ensure both price and product competition.
Defense exports improve interoperability with friendly forces with which we are increasingly likely to operate in coalition warfare or peacekeeping missions. They increase our influence over recipient country actions, and in a worse case scenario, allow the U.S. to terminate support for equipment. Exports lower the unit costs of systems to the U.S. military. In recent years they have kept mature lines open while the U.S. has developed new systems that will go into production around the turn of the century. Finally, these exports provide the same economic benefits to the U.S. as all other exports - well paying jobs, improved balance of trade, and increased tax revenue. These are really issues of acquisition policy, not appropriations matters.
Mr. President, I would prefer not to criticize this legislation. It is very important to the ultimate success of our ongoing war on terror. Yet, I believe it is important to point out to the American taxpayer where some of their money is going. And some of it is not going to projects that have anything to do with our defense.
I yield the floor.”