ANSONIA — Today, while visiting Ansonia, Connecticut’s American Precision Manufacturing, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced the introduction of his 21st Century Buy American Act. The 21st Century Buy American Act will strengthen existing Buy American standards to ensure that the U.S. government prioritizes the purchase of American-made goods. The legislation will comprehensively reform the outdated Buy American Act, which were signed into law more than 80 years ago.

“Instead of investing in our own manufacturers, the United States has shipped money and jobs overseas – a whopping $177 billion in just the last 8 years alone. Enough is enough. It’s no surprise that a bill passed into law more than 80 years ago has failed to keep up with changing times, but it's about time we do something to fix it. The 21st Century Buy American Act is a commonsense way to update the law and put American workers and businesses first," said Murphy. 

Specifically, the 21st Century Buy American Act will:

  • 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. Current loopholes in ‘Buy American’ legislation allow agencies to exploit this waiver, leaving American manufacturers behind. Murphy released a report on the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) overuse of these waivers. 
  • 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 – who are crucial to our long-term industrial base – receive the assistance they need to continue making items that are scarce in America.  This is vital for America’s economy and national security.  
  • Increase the domestic content percentage requirement. The 21st Century Buy American Act will increase the domestic content percentage requirement from 50% to 60%. Therefore, in order to qualify as American-made, a company must produce a majority of its materials in the U.S.

The 21st Century Buy American Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month by U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.).

Last week, Congress passed the House-Senate 2016 National Defense Authorization Act conference report, which included Murphy’s ‘Buy American’ amendment. The amendment will increase Congressional oversight of U.S. Department of Defense by requiring more transparency over the Department’s overuse of Buy American Act waivers through the “overseas use” loophole in the law.