A group of Democratic senators is planning to introduce a “Buy America” amendment to a waterways bill after House GOP leadership stripped the language from the final package.
Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Overnight Energy & Environment — Lummis holds up Biden EPA picks Dems block Cruz's Nord Stream 2 sanctions bill MORE (D-Wis.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Biden calls Intel's B investment to build chip factories a tool for economic recovery Democrats see good chance of Garland prosecuting Trump MORE (D-Ohio) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyOn the Money — Inflation hits highest level in decades Pressures aligning on Biden, Democrats to forgive student loans Senate Democrats grow less confident in Manchin MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) are leading the last-ditch effort to require American iron and steel products be used in certain drinking water projects.
They want to reattach the provision to a nearly $12 billion Water Resource Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes dozens of infrastructure projects around the country and is on track to pass the House this week.
“I’m not giving up on this fight,” Baldwin said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “Why would we pass a bill that only benefits Russian and Chinese steel corporations when we could be providing certainty to American manufacturers of steel and iron?”
During final negotiations on the waterways bill, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) was responsible for dropping the provision from the package, sources familiar with the negotiations told The Hill last week. 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.
But supporters say Ryan's push to drop the language is directly at odds with President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death MORE’s promise to support American manufacturers and create jobs for the middle class.
Trump, who has remained silent on the issue, said last week his own infrastructure plan would “buy American and hire American.”
“He really needs to stick to that promise and take a stand right now,” Baldwin said.
Democrats are calling on Republicans to reinstate the provision before it even reaches the Senate, where the Buy America amendment is unlikely to receive a floor vote. The House would have to come back in session to approve any Senate-made changes before it can be cleared for the president’s signature.
If the language remains out of the water bill in the House, as is expected, Baldwin said “we would ask [Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 WATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week MORE (R-Ky.)] to make it in order and we’d ask the House to stay around to make sure we could complete the process.”
Regardless of the outcome, however, the Buy America fight may foreshadow future showdowns between the incoming administration and Republican leadership, as some of Trump’s trade policies have been in conflict with the GOP.
“President-elect Trump’s core promises are coming under fire, not from Democrats, but from his own Republicans in Congress,” Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerForced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters Tuesday. “This week we’re beginning to see the fault lines emerge, the divisions that will dominate Washington next year.”
--This story was updated at 4:45 p.m.