U.S. CONGRESS Panel OKs Traficant amendment
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The House Rules Committee is recommending the full House approve an amendment sponsored by U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. requiring school districts receiving money under the proposed education-reform bill to use American-made steel in construction projects.
The House will consider the Traficant amendment and the White House-backed education bill, known as the No Child Left Behind Act, next week.
"Pep rallies and cheerleading efforts are not going to get it done," Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, said in a prepared statement. "Legislative initiatives at the federal level will promote solutions to this crisis, and I will fight to see that those solutions become a reality."
Charles Straub, Traficant spokesman, acknowledges the education bill includes only a small amount for school construction projects. The bill calls for about $50 billion in education spending with about 3 percent proposed for construction projects.
"But there is talk about a significant amount of money that will be dropped in at some point for construction," Straub said.
The U.S. Senate, which is also considering the bill, rejected an amendment by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin to add $1.6 billion for school construction and modernization.
About the bill: The education bill, being pushed by President Bush, would provide money for reading programs, intervention for at-risk pupils and annual testing in reading and math for children in grades three through eight.
The House Rules Committee heard about 100 proposed amendments to the education bill Thursday and recommended 28 of them, including Traficant's steel amendment, to the House for a vote, Straub said.
Amendment: Traficant's amendment would require schools undertaking construction projects with money from this bill to use only American steel or risk losing the federal funding. Foreign steel could be used only if no American steel could be found for the work.
"This could be a big boon to the U.S. steel industry," Straub said.
For years, Traficant has successfully included similar "Buy American" amendments in bills.
The congressman also has been vocal about the federal government's responsibility to help ailing domestic steel companies hurt by illegal foreign steel dumping. That includes a proposal he made in February -- which has gone nowhere -- to give greater flexibility to troubled companies borrowing money under the Federal Emergency Steel Loan Guarantee Program.
That bill was designed to help CSC Ltd., the bankrupt Warren steelmaker, which had approval for a $60 million federal loan guarantee but could not secure financing because of loopholes in the program.