An attempt by an influential member of Congress to boost military spending on U.S.-made injection molds and dies has died, after supporters were unable to overcome objections from the defense industry and the Bush administration.
The head of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., had championed legislation that would have required U.S. defense contractors to use mainly U.S.-made molds and dies, as part of a much larger ``Buy American'' package he was pushing in 2004 defense-spending legislation.
But the defense industry and the Bush administration said it would raise costs, U.S. allies objected and the plan ultimately died in a legislative fight between Hunter and the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John Warner, R-Va.
Hunter ultimately dropped much of his ``Buy American'' language in a closed-door meeting with other lawmakers Nov. 6, clearing the way for the House and Senate to adopt the $400 billion defense-spending plan.
Now the plan calls on the Pentagon to develop an incentive program to encourage defense contractors to use U.S.-made machine tools.
Matt Coffey, president of the National Tooling and Machining Association in Fort Washington, Md., said he was surprised the provision got as far as it did.
``[Hunter] was fighting the White House, the DOD, and the entire aerospace industry,'' Coffey said. ``I am disappointed that the Senate prevailed over the House in those provisions and we'll just have to fight the fight again.''
The mold provision stayed alive during weeks of protracted negotiations in October between Hunter and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who were trying to craft a provision that both Hunter and the administration could agree to.
Coffey said he will use his seat on the Defense Acquisition Advisory Group, a Pentagon-appointed panel, to influence defense procurement regulations.
NTMA estimates that defense and aerospace work make up about 15 percent of U.S. mold and machine tool sales. The association viewed the legislation as a way to help the industry economically and raise its profile, while the Pentagon said it feared rising costs and quality problems if it started micromanaging contractors.