Biden says latest executive order will rebuild ‘backbone of America’

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President Biden on Monday signed an executive order meant to increase federal procurement of U.S.-made goods, describing it as a step toward rebuilding the “backbone of America” and bolstering the middle class.

“Today, we are getting to work to rebuild the backbone of America — manufacturing, unions, the middle class. It is based on the simple premise that we’ll reward work and not wealth in this country,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “The key plank of the future will be made in America.”

The order is designed to strengthen the rules surrounding the Buy American Act requiring federal agencies to purchase American-made products, according to administration officials.

It will create a new senior role at the White House Office of Management and Budget to oversee the implementation of the administration’s “Made in America” initiative aimed at cutting back on unnecessary waivers granted to agencies to buy foreign-made products. It will also direct officials to create a website where waivers can be viewed publicly to help other businesses compete.

The order also aims to increase the domestic content requirements and improve how domestic content is measured to close loopholes exploited by companies, officials said.

It will also direct agencies to use the manufacturing extension partnership, a network of small and medium-sized businesses across the country, which Biden said would help get contracts to communities historically left out of government procurement.

“This is a critical piece of building our economy back better and including everyone in a deal this time, especially small businesses that are badly hurting in this economy,” Biden said.

Former President Trump signed a similar order months after he took office that aimed to tighten rules for visas given to skilled foreign workers and directed the government to fully enforce “Buy American” laws.

But Biden accused the previous administration of not taking the issue “seriously enough” and said that “tens of billions” of taxpayer dollars went to support foreign industries and jobs.

Monday’s executive order, Biden said, would “tighten the existing ‘Buy American’ policies and go further.”

Biden characterized the order as a step in the broader economic plan he laid out during his campaign to boost U.S. industries and help end reliance on foreign-made goods at a time when American companies are badly hurting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden said his long-term plan would involve the federal government investing in American-made goods to rebuild U.S. infrastructure and purchasing clean electric cars in order to spur job creation.

The president also noted that the pandemic exposed weaknesses in U.S. supply chains and emphasized the need for the country to produce its own protective equipment and essential supplies.

“The reason we need to do this is America can’t sit on the sidelines in the race for the future,” Biden said. “To ensure the future is made of America, we need to win not just the jobs of today but the jobs and industries of tomorrow. We know that the middle class built this country, and we also know that unions build the middle class. So let’s invest in them once again.”    

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