Brown, Portman Introduced Legislation to Expand Buy America Provisions
WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) recently wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney urging the Trump Administration to apply Buy America to all federally-funded infrastructure projects as they begin to implement President Trump’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order (EO).
Brown sent his letter to Trump as the president discusses the Administration’s infrastructure plan in Ohio. The President’s infrastructure budget makes no mention of Buy America provisions he promised on the campaign trail.
“I share President Trump’s goal of promoting economic and national security and supporting the American manufacturing and the U.S. defense industrial base. If implemented in a manner consistent with my legislation, the Buy American, Hire American EO will put U.S. jobs and U.S. manufacturers first. I urge the Administration, through the EO, to seize this opportunity to ensure that all federally funded infrastructure projects use materials produced in the United States,” Brown wrote in the letter.
In April, President Trump signed the Buy American, Hire American EO, which, in part, works to ensure that the entire steel making process must take place in America to be considered “Buy American.”
Brown has introduced legislation with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) that would expand Buy America to all federally funded infrastructure and public works projects. In January, Brown wrote to Trump asking him to make Buy America rules a top priority when in office and outlining the Buy America legislation. Trump responded with a handwritten note.
Brown is also a cosponsor of the Made in America Water Infrastructure Act along with U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). President Donald Trump expressed support for the bill, which would ensure that American steel and iron are used in all projects funded by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
Brown led the fight last Congress to restore Buy America provisions to the water infrastructure bill that would have permanently changed the law to require the use of American-made iron and steel products in infrastructure projects. While Buy America rules apply to some federal infrastructure programs, many taxpayer-funded projects still lack rules requiring the use of American-made products. Brown’s proposed legislation would ensure Buy America rules apply to all federally-assisted projects.
Text of Brown’s letter is available here and included below.
Dear Secretary Ross and Director Mulvaney:
I applaud President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American, Hire American (EO 13788), and I am pleased the Administration is committed to supporting U.S. jobs with taxpayer dollars. I introduced legislation (S. 181) to ensure that all public infrastructure projects use materials produced in the United States, and I similarly urge the Administration to implement EO 13788 so that it applies a strong Buy America preference to all infrastructure, construction, and public works projects that receive federal assistance.
Thorough implementation of the EO is critical to ensuring federal agencies apply Buy America policies where they are not currently or where they are applied but with loopholes and other exceptions. My legislation would require the Administration to develop a comprehensive list of all federal infrastructure and public works programs, across all agencies, and identify programs that are not covered by Buy America. I am pleased that the EO takes a similar approach and requires agencies to conduct a top-to-bottom review to uncover any programs that allow foreign producers to benefit from taxpayer-funded projects. I urge you to ensure this agency review process is transparent and exhaustive.
To that end, as you prepare the guidance as required in the first 60 days of the EO’s timeline, I urge you to direct agencies to disclose the amount and purpose of all federal acquisition and assistance programs. Agencies should include in their disclosures programs in which funding, financing, or guarantees for infrastructure and public works projects are disbursed through states and local governments. In addition, it is critical that agencies indicate whether such programs are subject to a Buy America preference. My legislation requires the automatic application of Buy America preferences to all federal assistance and acquisition infrastructure programs, and I ask you to implement the EO in the same fashion. Once the agencies’ reports on federal assistance are complete, the Administration should immediately apply strong Buy America preferences to all federal acquisitions and assistance for infrastructure, construction, and public works projects, including those that are not currently required to meet those standards.
I share President Trump’s goal of promoting economic and national security and supporting the American manufacturing and the U.S. defense industrial base. If implemented in a manner consistent with my legislation, the Buy American, Hire American EO will put U.S. jobs and U.S. manufacturers first. I urge the Administration, through the EO, to seize this opportunity to ensure that all federally funded infrastructure projects use materials produced in the United States.