WASHINGTON – Today, ahead of the U.S. Senate’s vote on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered an amendment to the “fast track” legislation that would ensure the U.S. government prioritizes the purchase of American-made goods and supports our domestic manufacturing base. Murphy’s amendment would prohibit federal agencies from waiving domestic sourcing requirements allowed through the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 if an American company could produce the same good at a competitive price or if the waiver would cause an American company to go out of business. Murphy will push for a vote on the amendment.
Currently, the Trade Agreements Act allows the President to waive all domestic sourcing laws, like those under the Buy American Act, for countries that the United States holds trade agreements with. These waivers were only intended to be used when an American-made good was unavailable or would increase the cost of a product or service to prohibitively high levels, but loopholes in the legislation allow agencies to exploit this waiver, leaving American manufacturers behind. In fact, in Fiscal Year 2013 alone, the U.S. Department of Defense granted 1,173 waivers and upwards of $475 million on items manufactured overseas, all to the detriment of American defense manufacturers. Murphy’s amendment would close these loopholes and make it impossible for agencies to use these waivers without considering long- and short-term effects on American businesses and employment.
“I'm for free trade, but it needs to be fair trade. For too long, we’ve been shipping money and jobs overseas instead of investing billions of dollars in our manufacturing economy. Too many talented, hardworking manufacturers in Connecticut are out of work because the federal government isn’t doing enough to prioritize American jobs when making purchases,” said Murphy. “The United States should only support trade deals that don't immediately allow other countries to unfairly undercut American companies. This amendment is simple and straightforward; it will create new jobs, bolster our country’s manufacturing sector, and grow opportunities for the middle class.”
The manufacturing industry plays a crucial role throughout Connecticut communities, creating new jobs and accelerating our state’s economic recovery. Today, Connecticut’s 4,602 manufacturers account for 10.2% of the state’s jobs and 87% of the state’s total exports. As part of his continued effort to fight for Connecticut workers, jobs, and businesses, Murphy has sought to eliminate barriers to U.S. exports and update trade policies that do not meet the needs of Connecticut’s economy. In order to protect and grow jobs for the state’s hardworking residents, Murphy has introduced two pieces of legislation - the 21st Century Buy American Act and the American Jobs Matter Act - that would strengthen existing standards and prioritize the purchase of American-made goods.