WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) joined Scott Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, to announce the introduction of the 21st Century Buy American Act. The Buy American Act was enacted in 80 years ago by President Herbert Hoover in order to ensure that the U.S. government prioritized the purchase of American-made goods. Since the law was passed, very few amendments have been made to reflect the nation’s changing economy and manufacturing industry, shortchanging manufacturers in across the country.
“This is a simple concept: the United States government should give preference to American manufacturers when it purchases goods,” said Murphy. “The Buy American Act – passed 80 years ago – has failed to keep up with the changing economic and manufacturing trends in our country. Too many loopholes exist within the law that allow the federal government to circumvent buying American-made goods, ultimately leaving our hardworking manufacturers in the dust. I’ve traveled the state hearing from manufacturers who keep Connecticut’s manufacturing industry strong and the message is clear: every job that we create overseas through foreign purchases is one less job here in America. It’s time to update the Buy American Act so we can maintain and grow jobs here at home.”
“Instead of purchasing foreign-made products that create jobs overseas, the federal government should spend American taxpayer dollars on American-made goods to support our American workers. Our bill will help rebuild our manufacturing industry and create new jobs by providing an increased demand for American-made products by the federal government,” said Cicilline. “It's time to bring manufacturing back to America and the U.S. government should lead by example.”
The 21st Century Buy American Act would strengthen existing Buy American Act standards and make a number of important changes to support our domestic manufacturing base. For example, the bill would:
- Close loopholes that allow federal agencies to waive Buy American requirements, By closing these loopholes, agencies would rarely be able to use a “public interest waiver” without considering long and short term effects on U.S. employment. This public interest waiver was only intended to be used when an American-made good is unavailable or will increase the cost of a product or service to prohibitively high levels. Current loopholes in Buy American legislation allow agencies to exploit this waiver, leaving American manufacturers behind. For example, the U.S. Department of Defense alone spent $22 billion on items manufactured overseas to the detriment of American defense manufacturers.
- Provide resources for U.S. manufacturers of items in short supply to help them compete against foreign manufacturers for U.S. government contracts. By claiming an item is “non-available” domestically, or almost non-available, federal agencies can avoid certain Buy American requirements. This legislation invests in new and existing manufacturers of non-available items or manufacturers who are the only domestic manufacturer of a specific item, ensuring that these companies crucial to our industrial base long-term receive the assistance they need to continue making items that are scarce in America. This is vital for our economy and national security.
- Increase the domestic content percentage requirement. Under the 21st Century Buy American Act, in order to qualify as American-made, a company must produce a majority of its materials in the U.S, among other provisions.