A bill introduced this week by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-8, of Middletown, would make clear to customers that the products they purchase came from an American factory.
The Made in America Act creates the America Star Program, a voluntary program where manufacturers can qualify for special labeling that would be featured on their products, indicating that a significant portion of the product is American-made. Fitzpatrick unveiled the bill this week with co-sponsor Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat.
"People in my community understand that when they buy American they’re not only buying quality products, they’re helping American businesses — and American workers — in their neighborhoods and across the country," said Fitzpatrick in a statement. "The Made in America Act would connect American consumers to American manufacturers like never before by creating a definitive, standardized definition of American-made goods."
The America Star Program, similar to the Energy Star and USDA Certified Organic programs, would require interested companies to meet certain manufacturing benchmarks to earn the labeling. Four labels would be available in the voluntary program, beginning with products that have been created with at least 70 percent of American labor. The remaining labels are earned for the next ten percentage points, up to 100 percent.
"Making products in America supports both economic security and national security," said Michael Araten, president and CEO K'NEX, the Hatfield Township toy manufacturer where, in 2013, Fitzpatrick's brother, then-Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, first introduced similar legislation.
"We control our own destiny as a nation by manufacturing in America," Araten added.
Manufacturers have contributed more than $2.18 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2016, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. The industry employs more than 12.3 million workers in the United States, earning an average of more than $81,000 annually.
In Pennsylvania, more than 12,000 manufacturing firms produced more than $85 billion in goods in 2015, making up more than 12 percent of the state's GDP. The number of manufacturing employees totaled 556,000 in 2016, earning an average of $72,500.
Fitzpatrick's bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.