Dem presses Trump to get 'Buy American' provisions into water bill

Dem presses Trump to get 'Buy American' provisions into water bill
© Greg Nash

A Democratic senator is urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE to pressure House Republicans to include language that would mandate that water infrastructure efforts use American steel and iron.

Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinAnalysis: Dark money groups have funded 44 percent of 2018 congressional ads The Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies for Putin summit: 'He’s not my enemy’ Dem senator: Kavanaugh would 'turn back the clock' on women's health care MORE (D-Wis.) in a Thursday letter asked Trump to encourage House Republicans to add permanent “Buy American” provisions to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018, the biennial water resources bill.

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Baldwin noted that Trump has supported such Buy American provisions.

"However, this House bill fails to include a strong and permanent Buy America standard that you have previously supported,” Baldwin wrote in the letter. 

“I again urge you to correct the omission of the House WRDA by ensuring that the WRDA legislation that reaches your desk includes this crucial reform that we both support to require that our nation’s drinking water infrastructure is built with American workers and American-made materials,” she added.

The House late Wednesday easily passed its water infrastructure bill and the Senate is expected to take up its version of the legislation this summer.

The Senate bill, which received unanimous approval from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last month, incorporates Baldwin’s proposals for permanent Buy American standards.

But that bill differs from the one that just passed the lower chamber and Baldwin hopes the completed version will include her provisions, which Trump backed last April when he signed his "Buy American, Hire American" executive order.

That order required certain Cabinet officials to present a report to the president about Buy American efforts within 220 days of its signing. It also mandated successive annual reports on the efforts be submitted to the Commerce Secretary and the Office of Management and Budget chief through 2020.

But Baldwin said no reports have been made publicly available and the 220-day mark passed in November. 

So the Wisconsin lawmaker on Wednesday introduced legislation with several other Democrats that would require the administration to release the examinations.

The White House, Baldwin said, claims the reports are for internal purposes rather than for the public or Congress.

“We have no firm conclusion at this point but I feel like those reports were never done, or if they are, the public and manufacturers and workers in my state deserve to see them,” Baldwin told The Hill in an interview Thursday.

Before his inauguration, Trump said his administration would “follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.”

Several months into his presidency, Trump expressed support for Baldwin’s legislation that would mandate American-made iron and steel be used in some drinking water-infrastructure projects.

That same day, the president signed his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, which prioritizes the use of American-made steel and iron, in Baldwin’s home state.

The White House said this week that Trump’s advisers would suggest he sign the House water resources bill should it reach the president’s desk. 

But Baldwin hopes her push to include lasting Buy American provisions in the legislation can be worked out in conference between the House and Senate.

“If WRDA becomes the main infrastructure bill of this session, it’s even more necessary and vital that it include Buy America provision,” she told The Hill.