Dems press Trump to support ‘Buy America’ provision in water bill


Democrats are calling on President-elect Donald Trump to support a “Buy America” provision in a waterways bill after GOP leadership stripped the language from the measure last week.

{mosads}The last-ditch effort to rally support for the language, which would require American iron and steel products be used in projects assisted by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, comes days after Trump promised that his own infrastructure plan would “buy American and hire American.”

“If President-elect Trump is serious about keeping his promise to build a ‘Made in America’ manufacturing economy, he needs to take a stand against this threat from Speaker Ryan and House Republicans,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) in a statement. “American workers should build our infrastructure with American products, and taxpayers’ money should not be spent on Chinese iron and steel.”

Committee leaders had almost reached a deal on finalizing the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes dozens of water-related infrastructure projects around the country and is expected to contain emergency aid for the lead-contaminated community of Flint, Mich.

But a last-minute sticking point emerged last week when Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) dropped the so-called Buy America provision from the bill, sources familiar with the negotiations told The Hill last Thursday. The language was included in the Senate-passed WRDA measure but not in the House version.

Critics of the steel provision worry that directing federal funding to some companies over others would create an unfair system of winners and losers.

Supporters, meanwhile, say Ryan’s push to drop the language is directly at odds with Trump’s promise to support American manufacturers and create jobs for the middle class. A coalition of Democrats took to Twitter on Monday to urge Republicans put the provision back into WRDA.

“.@SenatorBaldwin’s #BuyAmerica provision would help build US infrastructure w/ US steel. How can @HouseGOP oppose this obvious job creator?” tweeted incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“@HousesGOP plan harms American manufacturing. @HouseDemocrats will fight to support #BuyAmerica & we urge @realdonaldtrump to do same,” wrote Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.).

“Tell @SpeakerRyan to put #BuyAmerica back in Water bill. American tax dollars for American jobs,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who circulated a letter to his colleagues last week in support of the provision, tweeted directly at the president-elect.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during a press conference last Friday that the absence of the Buy America language in WRDA was “problematic,” but acknowledged that Republicans “have the votes so they can go forward if they wish.”

“But we have a very big concern about that and that’s part of what was going on,” she added.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said during a briefing with reporters on Monday morning that the text of the final WRDA bill will be posted later in the day.

Lawmakers and lobbyists were still scrambling to get the steel provision included, and said negotiations were still underway as of Monday morning.

Regardless of the outcome, however, the Buy America fight may foreshadow future showdowns between the incoming administration and Republican leadership. Some of Trump’s trade policies have been in conflict with the GOP.

But the debate also shows how the issue could create odd bedfellows in Congress, where Democrats may be on the same side as Trump.

“Let’s be clear: If Trump is serious about helping US manufacturing, he must tell @SpeakerRyan @HouseGOP to stop plans to strip #BuyAmerica,” tweeted Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).

Tags Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Paul Ryan Sherrod Brown Tammy Baldwin

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video