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Hauling in the Supply Chain

Hawley's new proposal would require more than 50 percent of the value of critical goods to be produced in the U.S. in order to be sold stateside.

US Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Rules and Administration committees joint hearing on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, on February 23, 2021, to examine the January 6th attack on the US Capitol. (Photo by ERIN SCOTT / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ERIN SCOTT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Josh Hawley is giving Pete Buttigieg a run for his money.

While the transportation secretary and his male partner finish out their third month of paternity leave, with the United States in a supply chain crisis that both Buttigieg and the White House have told Americans they should just deal with, the Missouri senator has introduced a bill to address a major part of the problem: namely, our global-dependent supply chain.

Hawley says the bill will end the United States’ “dangerous over reliance on foreign factories” by bringing manufacturing back to American soil. Using the language of national security, the Make in America to Sell in America Act would require multinational corporations to make more of their goods in the United States.

The bill would direct the Department of Commerce, in consultation with the Department of Defense, to produce an annual report detailing which manufactured goods, both finished and intermediate, are crucial for U.S. national security—or, importantly, are crucial for the protection of the U.S. industrial base, an inclusion which broadens the bill’s reach significantly. Those goods which the DoC and DoD identified would be required to produce more than 50 percent of the value of that good within the United States in order to be sold in the domestic commercial market. The bill would also allow domestic manufacturers to petition the International Trade Commission and the DoC for enforcement actions against importers of goods that fail to meet the new standards.

Hawley told Fox Business:

For decades, Washington elites shipped American jobs overseas while factories throughout the country were shuttered, leaving us perilously reliant on foreign manufacturing. The COVID pandemic, disastrous lockdown policies, and Joe Biden’s war on American energy have exposed just how misguided these choices were and everyday Americans are now paying the price.

Executive Director of American Compass Oren Cass, a member of The American Conservative advisory board, was cautiously approving in a tweet about the bill on Thursday.

“Interesting proposal from @HawleyMO today on local content requirements for critical supply chains. This is something we discussed with him at the @AmerCompass event last year.”

American Compass Research Director Wells King told The American Conservative the bill moves the reshoring debate in a constructive direction.

“The Made in America to Sell in America Act is a promising proposal that centers on one of the simplest yet most effective tools in industrial policy: local content requirements,” King said in an email. “Compared to other policies like tariffs, quotas, or subsidies, local content requirements are simpler, require less discretionary authority, and pose fewer drawbacks. They can be an appropriately blunt instrument for achieving a blunt good, and they’ve been adopted successfully to achieve a goals for technological and industrial development in the past.”

The remaining question, as King points out, is which industries would be subject to the requirement.

According to Hawley, the requirement would go into effect three years after the bill is enacted—potentially so businesses have ample time to move their manufacturing back home, or perhaps to garner support from his fellow legislators who will be campaigning for reelection before that. Nevertheless, it’s a step in the right direction, and a notable one from a party that has been as slow to act on moving the supply chain stateside as they are quick to talk about it on national media.

about the author

Carmel Richardson is the 2021-2022 editorial fellow at The American Conservative. She received her B.A. from Hillsdale College in political philosophy with a minor in journalism. She firmly believes that the backroads are better than the interstate, and though she currently resides in Northern Virginia, her home state will always be Tennessee.

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