Washington, District of Columbia – March 31, 2021 – The American Shipbuilding Suppliers Association (ASSA) presented the 2021 Honorable Thad Cochran Leadership Award to The Honorable Donald Norcross (NJ-01) for his dedication and commitment to a robust American shipbuilding supplier industrial base. He was presented the award during the ASSA Annual Congressional Virtual Fly-in by ASSA Founder, Carl Fisher along with Congressman John Garamendi (CA-03), the 2020 recipient of the award, and Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), the inaugural recipient of the Award in 2017. ASSA established this annual award to honor the leadership of the late Senator Cochran for his unwavering support to those large and small businesses that provide the technologies and components necessary to build Navy and Coast Guard ships, which are critical to U.S. national security. The Honorable Thad Cochran Leadership Award is given annually to a public servant, selected by the ASSA membership. “The selection of The Honorable Donald Norcross for this award was an easy one this year based upon his efforts to significantly increase the required level of domestic content on new Navy ships,” said Fisher. Congressman Norcross, Chair of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), authored provisions in H.R. 6395, the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Fiscal Year 2021, to enhance ‘Buy American’ standards for major defense acquisition programs to bring manufacturing and high-quality jobs back home. While Congress was unable to fully support his proposal, he established himself as a strong voice for the defense domestic supply base. “Congressman Norcross worked boldly for the industry and American workers, and he continues his efforts to convince his colleagues of the importance of using American suppliers,” said George Williams, CEO of ASSA. “He thoroughly understands the financial and national security benefits of maximizing the US industrial base.” “If we are going to really have a robust shipbuilding industry, it has to be all the pieces and that is where Congressman Norcross really stepped up to provide leadership through the provisions he authored last year,” said Congressman Garamendi, a champion of ‘Buy American’ himself.
“The issues of shipbuilding, and especially the supplier base, should be forefront in the minds of all Members of Congress,” said Congressman Wittman. “Donald Norcross understands the value and the need for expanding the utilization of domestic suppliers for our Navy’s ships.” The 1933 Buy American Act requires the U.S. Government to purchase items that are made in America. However, under interpretation of that law an item only needs to be comprised of 50% American parts to be considered American Made. The provision Congressman Norcross championed would have required the Department of Defense (DOD) to increase the percentage of American parts. “As we’ve seen through the pandemic, when we don’t have the manufacturing capacity here in the US, our National Security and the lives of Americans are at risk. We must do better,” said Congressman Norcross. “Buy American, which has the strong support of our hard-working defense contract workforce, shows that we are truly serious about building things in the US, creating good paying jobs and supporting the American worker.” Norcross believes that increasing ‘Buy American’ requirements in defense procurement would help ensure that our tax dollars are used to support the US workforce and the firms who employ them. Addressing the concern that a high-end conflict could breakout with China or another adversary, America may face the possibility that we can no longer source a component part from abroad. “If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is just how critical supply chains can be in a time of crisis,” he said. To that end, in March, the House Armed Services Committee established the Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force to review the industrial base supply chain and identify and analyze threats and vulnerabilities over the next three months. Congressman Norcross sits on this task force, chaired by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) and Congressman Mike Gallagher (WI-08). This follows on the heels of President Biden’s January 25th Made in America Executive Order calling for strengthening of ‘Buy American’ laws and appointment of a Director of Made in America within OMB. The order requires each Agency to provide a report to the Director within 180 days on their implementation of the Executive Order and make recommendations on how to implement the policy. The President’s February 24th Executive Order on “America’s Supply Chains” requires DOD and other agencies to provide a report within one year on supply chain resiliency. “Since shipbuilding suppliers are not covered under limited Buy American laws, members of ASSA will work with Congressman Norcross and other members of Congress to give suppliers and the American workforce an opportunity to present their case to this task force and these agencies.” said Williams. Congressman Norcross joins an august group of award recipients dedicated to improving the opportunities for domestic shipbuilding suppliers. The award was first established in 2017 and presented to Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01). In 2018, the Honorable Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin was recognized. The Honorable Joe Courtney (CT-02) was the 2019 recipient, and last year ASSA members had the honor of presenting the award to The Honorable John Garamendi (CA-03).
### ASSA is a member driven, national organization, advocating for the American Shipbuilding Supplier Base to the U. S. Congress, Navy, Coast Guard and shipbuilders to ensure the long-term stability of the U. S. national maritime industry.