Snowe, Lieberman Lead Lawmakers In Expressing Support For Critical Manufacturing Program
Letter by 33 Senators urges White House to increase funding for Manufacturing Extension Partnership
WASHINGTON, DC - Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Co-Chairs of the Senate Task Force on Manufacturing, today led a group of 33 Senate colleagues in calling on the Bush Administration to reverse cuts to a successful program to help stop the manufacturing crisis and keep small manufacturers productive and competitive. In a letter sent today to White House Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua B. Bolten, the Senators urged the White House to restore full funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 budget.
"Smaller manufacturers will lose $1.8 billion in sales and $446 million in cost savings, reduce investment in modernization by $649 million, and lay-off 28,000 workers because of the MEP funding cut," the letter said. "These reductions will have real and significant impacts on our economy. Manufacturing was a significant contribution to the economy's growth in the 1990s, and small manufacturers are the engines that increase productivity and job growth."
The MEP is a nationwide network of not-for-profit centers in over 400 locations nationwide, whose sole purpose is to provide small and medium-sized manufacturers with the help they need in implementing the most advanced manufacturing technologies and processes to succeed as we compete with low wage countries such as China. The centers, serving all 50 states and Puerto Rico, are linked together through the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Centers are funded by federal, state, local and private resources to serve manufacturers. That makes it possible for even the smallest firms to tap into the expertise of MEP's knowledgeable manufacturing and business specialists throughout the United States.
Although the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $106.9 million for the MEP, the Omnibus Appropriations Conference Report cut funding to $39.6 million, despite the fact that manufacturers have lost 2.7 million jobs since July 2000, and we are now in our 40th consecutive month of manufacturing job losses. In the letter, the Senators requested the Administration's support in increasing funding to $110 million in the budget for FY '05. Many MEP Centers will continue to try to operate for a year under the smaller funding levels in the hopes that full funding will be restored for FY 2005.