Dems introduce ‘Buy America’ amendment to water bill

Dems introduce ‘Buy America’ amendment to water bill
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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.

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Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinFederal funding for Chinese buses risks our national security Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall The Trump downturn: Trouble ahead for the US economy MORE (D-Wis.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Hillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks Senate Democrats want answers on 'dangerous' Amazon delivery system MORE (D-Ohio) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyEx-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate Democrats press Trump Treasury picks on donor disclosure guidelines 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 RyanThree-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea 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 John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border 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 McConnellDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Democrats press for action on election security Hillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall 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.