You’d think that after the Great Depression members of Congress would make every effort to prevent legislative disaster from repeating itself, especially during this period of economic turmoil. Instead, members blatantly ignored the failure of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, a protectionist measure that reduced imports and only further crippled the devastated economy, by passing another “Buy American” provision. This time, it was snuck into the fiscal 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.
Despite being warned of how U.S. protectionist legislation could spark a trade war, an amendment offered by Rep. Larry Kissell, (D-NC) was inserted into the Energy and Water Appropriations bill specifying that the General Services Administration can only purchase vehicles manufactured by Ford, General Motors or Chrysler. The bill, including the nasty one-line amendment, passed in the House on a 261-172 vote Wednesday.
This marks the third protectionist measure taken since Obama took office and signifies a break in his promise to the Group of 20 summit to not pursue protectionist policies. Both the European Union and Japan have already expressed serious disapproval of this recent action. The appropriations bill will now move onto the Senate where members will have the opportunity to strip the amendment from the bill. Let’s hope they paid more attention in history class than the members in the House.