CHESHIRE – Today, as part of a continued effort to sound the alarm over the billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of Buy American waivers used by the federal government, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released a new report on the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) overuse of these waivers during a visit to one of Connecticut’s high-growth manufacturers. Murphy’s report reveals that instead of investing in American manufacturers and job creation, DoD has granted a staggering 307,123 waivers and exceptions to the Buy American Act over the last 8 years, and has spent over $176.8 billion of taxpayers’ dollars on goods manufactured by foreign companies. Murphy emphasizes that even as DoD’s reliance on waivers overall has decreased, the number of waivers used for shipbuilding and aerospace products – two of Connecticut’s most important manufacturing sectors – remains steady. This combined $5.4 billion wasted opportunity, which could have had an outsized positive impact on Connecticut, has instead cost Connecticut jobs.
Buy American Act waivers are intended to allow federal agencies to purchase goods or services from foreign companies, but only in extraordinary circumstances: for example, when an American-made good is unavailable or will increase the cost of a product to prohibitively high levels. However, to the detriment of countless American manufacturers and companies, federal agencies like DoD currently overuse this waiver authority without considering the long- and short-term effects on U.S. employment. Thanks to the successful efforts by Murphy to raise awareness about this overuse of funds, the number of Buy American Act waivers has decreased in recent years, but the number is still far too high.
“Everywhere I go in Connecticut, people are outraged that their taxpayer dollars are being used to create jobs overseas, instead of here in America,” said Murphy. “The bottom line is that too many talented, hardworking manufacturing workers in Connecticut are out of work because the federal government isn’t doing enough to prioritize American jobs when making purchases. We should be doing everything in our power to create new American jobs, bolster our country’s manufacturing sector, and grow opportunities for the middle class; it’s about time the Department of Defense put American workers and businesses first.”
Murphy has led several initiatives and introduced numerous pieces of legislation in an effort to protect and grow manufacturing jobs in Connecticut, and to put a stop to the DoD’s outrageous misuse of Buy American waivers. Murphy introduced two pieces of legislation - the 21st Century Buy American Act and the American Jobs Matter Act - that aim to strengthen existing standards and reorient our procurement decisions towards more American manufacturers. In addition, last week, Murphy offered an amendment to “fast track” trade legislation that would protect American companies from Buy American provisions, but Senate Republicans blocked his amendment from coming up for a vote. As a result of these efforts, Murphy has successfully reduced the amount of Buy American waivers issued since 2008.
Last year, Murphy issued a report on DoD’s misuse of Buy American waivers in 2013.