Bipartisan Push for ‘Invent Here, Make Here’ Act
In an era where manufacturing has increasingly shifted overseas, a new bipartisan effort is underway to bolster domestic production of taxpayer-funded technologies. Senators Tammy Baldwin and JD Vance are at the helm of this initiative, introducing the Invent Here, Make Here Act of 2023.
The Act, as it is proposed, would mandate that all federal agencies commercializing taxpayer-funded research inventions must license their production exclusively to American manufacturers. This bill marks a significant shift in policy, as existing laws are often circumvented, permitting foreign companies to produce American taxpayer-funded technology.
This loophole was brought to the public eye in late 2022, when an NPR investigative report revealed that the Department of Energy approved the manufacturing of vanadium redox flow batteries—a breakthrough technology conceived in a federally-funded lab—to be licensed to China.
According to Senator Baldwin, “When taxpayer dollars are used to fund innovation, American companies and workers are the ones who should be reaping the benefits.” The Act is an effort to ensure that the fruits of American innovation are domestically manufactured, bolstering local industry and employment.
The bill is an expansion on a provision included in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which aimed to strengthen the waiver process for inventions resulting from federal research at the Department of Homeland Security. The new rules now encapsulate all programs funded by all federal agencies and entirely prohibit waivers for license applications from companies intending to manufacture in a “country of concern,” currently identified as China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.
Aside from keeping American inventions on home turf, the Invent Here, Make Here Act of 2023 also assigns the National Institute of Standards and Technology the task of improving coordination with other federal agencies. The aim is to encourage the commercialization of federal research by domestic manufacturers.
Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, has praised the bill, stating, “It makes no sense for taxpayer money to incentivize research that will then be produced in hostile countries.” This sentiment underlines the essence of the Invent Here, Make Here Act: bolstering domestic manufacturing, securing the intellectual property rights of American inventions, and putting American workers at the forefront of production.
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