With key Republican support, Sen. Chris Murphy on Tuesday unveiled pet legislation of his intended to boost the purchase of U.S.-made goods by federal agencies.
Connecticut’s junior Democratic senator brought aboard Republican Sens. Rob Portmanof Ohio and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Murphy called the two lawmakers “pretty influential Republicans” and said their
Republicans control the Senate with a narrow majority.
Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio also is backing the BuyAmerican.gov Act. It would establish an online hub to increase transparency and make sure federal agencies make a priority of purchasing U.S.-made goods in compliance with law.
The measure also would make “Buy American” executive orders by President Trumppermanent. Murphy, a fierce critic of the president on many issues, has found common ground with the Republican president in promoting U.S. manufacturing.
Current law allows federal agencies to use waivers to Buy American laws to purchase goods or services from foreign companies only in certain circumstances, such as when an American-made good is unavailable or will significantly increase costs.
Murphy said federal agencies too frequently take authority to use waivers. A government-wide system is needed to track what he says is the abuse of waivers.
Murphy and his colleagues say that in the last five years, U.S. federal agencies have spent nearly $48 billion on goods manufactured by foreign firms, resulting in contracts and jobs lost to overseas competitors.
The Department of Defense is the largest buyer of manufactured goods in the world and has spent nearly $200 billion on manufactured goods made by foreign companies since 2007, Murphy and his allies say.
Opponents to “Buy American” policies have said the provisions impose artificial limits that hurt consumers. In addition, global companies have said the rules can hinder their purchasing practices.
Like Connecticut, Ohio is home to a broad network of military suppliers and the aviation business of General Electric Co. Portman is backing the legislation to promote the Ohio and U.S. economy, while Graham is supporting the measure to boost national defense, Murphy said.
Murphy said the measure, which must be introduced in the House of Representatives, will likely be folded into a larger defense spending bill.
“We will work this bill hard,” he said.