Fight over 'Buy America' provision erupts in Congress

Fight over 'Buy America' provision erupts in Congress
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A last-minute fight over a “Buy America” provision has erupted in the final negotiations over a waterways bill.


At issue is language included in the Senate-passed version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that would require American iron and steel products be used in projects assisted by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

Sources familiar with the negotiations say Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE (R-Wis.) is actively pushing to strip the provision from the bill.

Supporters of the provision say Ryan's push is at odds with President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Schiff rips Conway's 'display of alternative facts' on Russian election interference MORE’s promise to support American manufacturers and create jobs for the middle class.

“From our end it’s a little baffling,” said Roy Houseman, a legislative representative for the United Steelworkers. “It’s been a program that’s been really successful, and it has bipartisan support. We’re just very confused by the Speaker, who’s not listening to the rest of his caucus.”

Negotiations are still ongoing and nothing is finalized, and a senior GOP aide said Thursday evening that the committees are still working out differences. But lead Democratic sponsor Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Budowsky: 2020 Dems should debate on Fox Overnight Health Care: How 2020 Dems want to overhaul health care | Brooklyn parents sue over measles vaccination mandate | Measles outbreak nears record MORE (Ohio) is making a final push to get the language included and actively circulating a letter to his colleagues to rally more support from both sides of the aisle.

“Buy America is an important job-creating provision. … As a result, companies will have incentives to invest in domestic manufacturing facilities, and U.S. taxpayer dollars will support American manufacturers,” the letter says, according to a copy obtained by The Hill.

“Removing the Buy America provisions from the [Drinking Water State Revolving Fund] will have the opposite effect. An opportunity to support and grow U.S. manufacturers will be squandered.”

It’s unclear, however, whether lead Democratic supporters would withhold their support for WRDA if the provision is ultimately dropped.

Lawmakers had also been wrestling over how to include funding for the lead-contaminated community of Flint, Mich.

Staff members worked through the weekend to hammer out differences between the two WRDA bills, and House committee leaders are hopeful they will have a final package on the floor next week.

- This story was updated at 4:55 p.m.