Obama manufacturing push off to slow start

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President Obama says he won’t wait for Congress to spur economic growth, but the executive action he’s promoting Wednesday as a way to create jobs is off to a painfully slow start.

Mr. Obama is visiting North Carolina State University in Raleigh to highlight his proposal to create public-private manufacturing “innovation institutes.” The federal government will spend $200 million on the initiative through five agencies, including the Energy and Defense departments.

The president first proposed the institutes a full year ago in his State of the Union address, and it’s taken the administration 12 months to choose the first project, centered at N.C. State. The other two institutes have yet to chosen — they’re still in a selection process led by the Pentagon. 

The White House said Wednesday that the next two institutes, focused on digital design and manufacturing and metals manufacturing, will be awarded “in the coming weeks.”

Although the president’s team is highlighting the North Carolina initiative as the fruits of unilateral executive action, the institutes do require legislation from Congress. And so far lawmakers seem to have very little appetite for the president’s proposal.

Bills were introduced in the House and Senate last July to create a network of up to 45 manufacturing institutes nationwide. But the president has put very little muscle into the legislative effort — the House bill currently has only 16 co-sponsors, and the Senate bill has only four lawmakers who are on record supporting it.

The bills were both referred to committees last summer, and there has been no action on the legislation since then.

 

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