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President Biden’s ‘Buy American’ Executive Order ‘Aims To Boost’ Government Purchases From U.S. Manufacturers - National AFL-CIO Says Order ‘Will Close Loopholes That Allow Agencies To Sidestep’ Such Requirements

Published Tuesday, January 26, 2021
by Labor News Services, The Associated Press & WNYLaborToday.com Staff
President Biden’s ‘Buy American’ Executive Order ‘Aims To Boost’ Government Purchases From U.S. Manufacturers - National AFL-CIO Says Order ‘Will Close Loopholes That Allow Agencies To Sidestep’ Such Requirements

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – President Joe Biden signed a Buy American Executive Order (EO) on Monday (January 25th) that aims to boost government purchases from U.S. manufacturers, a move the National AFL-CIO says will now close loopholes that allow agencies to sidestep such requirements.

The United States has shed roughly 540,000 factory jobs since last February as the Coronavirus Pandemic hurled the world’s largest economy into recession.

The goal of the EO would be to use the $600 billion the Federal Government spends on procurement to boost domestic factories and hiring.

Biden’s EO would modify the rules for the Buy American Program, making it harder for contractors to qualify for a waiver and sell foreign-made goods to Federal Agencies.

It also changes rules so more of a manufactured good’s components must originate from U.S. factories.

American-made goods would also be protected by an increase in the government’s threshold and price preferences, the difference in price over which the government can buy a foreign product.

Biden’s EO also has elements that apply to the separate Buy America Program, which applies separately to highways and bridges.

It seeks to open up government procurement contracts to new companies by scouting potential contractors.

The EO would create a public website for companies that received waivers to sell foreign goods to the government, so that U.S. manufacturers can have more information and be in a more competitive position.

To help enforce these goals, the EO establishes a job at the White House Office of Management and Budget to monitor the initiative and focus on ensuring the government buys more domestically made goods.

It also requires Federal Agencies to report on their progress in purchasing American goods, as well as emphasizing Biden’s support for the Jones Act, which mandates that only U.S.-flag vessels carry cargo between U.S. ports.

Past Presidents have promised to revitalize manufacturing as a source of job growth and achieved mixed results.

The government helped save the automotive sector after the 2008 financial crisis, but the number of factory jobs has been steadily shrinking over the course of four decades.

The number of U.S. manufacturing jobs peaked in 1979 at 19.5 million and now totals 12.3 million, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Biden’s predecessor, Republican President Donald Trump, famously promised a factory renaissance, yet manufacturing employment never returned to its pre-Great Recession levels before the Coronavirus struck.

National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement: The concept of Buy American is simple: Our tax dollars should be used to create jobs and advance production here at home.  For far too long, America’s Workers have suffered as many corporations wrap themselves in the American flag and simultaneously seek out loopholes to qualify for Buy American status with foreign-made products.  The Trump Administration used the right words, but never put in place policies to affect meaningful change.  This Executive Order will close loopholes that allow agencies to sidestep Buy American requirements and increase the thresholds for domestic content.  We know that when America’s Workers are given a level playing field, we can compete with anyone.  This order is a good first step in revitalizing U.S. manufacturing, which Trump’s policies failed to do over the past four years.  As we continue to fight the COVID-19 Pandemic, we will work with the Biden Administration to pursue policies that will build a stronger, fairer economy with a robust manufacturing base, and this Executive Order is an important piece of that strategy.

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