Lawmaker predicts defeat for 'Buy American' language

A provision that would limit Defense Department procurement to U.S. companies will be defeated during House-Senate negotiations over the Defense appropriations bill for fiscal 2004, a House lawmaker said on Wednesday.

"We're not going to stop our cooperation with our allies," Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., told an audience of government officials and defense technology contractors. "We will back off."

Weldon praised the sponsor of the so-called Buy American Act, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., but said curtailing cooperation with tech companies in allied countries would negatively impact the U.S. military.

Weldon said the best solution to the United States' security problems is to significantly increase funding but noted that budget deficits make that difficult. Therefore, he said, the military has to "work smarter" and buy more off-the-shelf technology.

Weldon also said some of the best innovations are the work of small companies and entrepreneurs. He pointed to a provision in the Defense appropriations bill that creates a new initiative designed for entrepreneurs and small businesses. That would complement the continuation of several existing government programs to help small businesses, he said.

Weldon challenged the companies in the room to give the government their ideas and proposed solutions to security problems. He said that companies could e-mail him directly and that he personally reads every e-mail he gets. "You're the future of our security," he said.

Norman Neureiter, science and technology adviser to the secretary of State, highlighted the importance of science and technology to national security because it can be applied to intelligence, diplomacy and war-fighting.

Neureiter, who leaves office Sept. 18 to be replaced by University of Arizona professor George Atkinson, said the "new world order" envisioned in the early 1990s has not materialized.

"Let me tell you folks, we don't have a new world order," he said. "We have a world of inordinate disorder."

Atkinson just returned from a meeting with Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf, who told him that science and technology must be foundations of economic development and stability in that country.

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