By Ed Tibbetts
A U.S. House committee has included language in a defense policy bill that would require the Defense Department to tell Congress about equipment being purchased from foreign companies that could be manufactured at places such as the Rock Island Arsenal.
The language was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2016, which the House Armed Services Committee was drafting Wednesday, according to Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, and Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and member of the committee.
The legislation is an annual bill that sets policy for the military.
The three lawmakers introduced the legislation Tuesday. It would require an annual report listing equipment purchased from foreign companies on a sole-source contract.
The report, according to the bill, would have to list the equipment that's being purchased and submit a plan to move the workload to the U.S. or provide an explanation why it shouldn't be moved.
The Arsenal is a major employer in the Quad-Cities, and area lawmakers have worked for years to include language in defense-related legislation to strengthen the installation.
"If equipment that is bought by our government is manufactured overseas but can just as easily be made here at home, there’s no excuse not to make the switch to support local jobs," Bustos said in a statement introducing the bill on Tuesday.
Duckworth, who recently toured the Arsenal on a swing through the Quad-Cities as part of her bid for the U.S. Senate, is on the Armed Services Committee.
She called the measure a "common-sense" approach to increasing productivity at facilities such as the Arsenal.
The committee draft is just the first step in the process. The legislation still must be approved by the full House and Senate and go to the president.