Dem senator to reintroduce ‘buy American’ legislation

Dem senator to reintroduce ‘buy American’ legislation
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A Democratic senator is renewing a push to advance “buy America” legislation after House GOP leadership killed a similar effort last year.

Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinK Street navigates virtual inauguration week Senate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act Seven Senate races to watch in 2022 MORE (D-Wis.) plans to unveil a measure on Friday that would require American iron and steel products to be used in certain drinking-water projects. She will make the announcement at Neenah Foundry, a Wisconsin manufacturer.

“We must rebuild our country’s infrastructure with American labor and American products,” Baldwin is expected to say, according to prepared remarks.

“The choice for the Republican establishment in Washington is clear: Do you stand with American manufacturers and workers or do you support spending taxpayer dollars on Chinese and Russian steel for American water infrastructure projects?”


The same language was included in a waterways bill last year, but was stripped from the final version by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Revising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices MORE (R-Wis.).

Critics say the language is unfair because it blocks some companies from receiving federal dollars.

The fight against "buy America" provisions was also fortified by a lobbying effort by foreign steel companies that recruited Squire Patton Boggs, which employees former Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCan the GOP break its addiction to show biz? House conservatives plot to oust Liz Cheney Ex-Speaker Boehner after Capitol violence: 'The GOP must awaken' MORE (R-Ohio), to pressure lawmakers to ditch the language.

NLMK Inc., a major Russian steel company with some facilities in the U.S., and California Steel Industries, which is jointly owned by a Japanese steel company and a Brazilian mining company, both hired the firm to lobby on the waterways bill in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But supporters like Baldwin believe they have a new opportunity with President Trump in the White House.

Trump has repeatedly promised to follow “two simple rules” with his infrastructure policies: buy American products and hire employees in the U.S.

Most federal transportation programs are already governed by some sort of "buy America" statute, but the government can grant a waiver if it’s in the public interest, the materials aren’t available in the U.S. or if it would increase a project’s cost by more than 25 percent.

Baldwin’s bill would require 100 percent American-made iron and steel to be used in any projects funded by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which acts as an infrastructure bank to help improve drinking water around the country.

“Now is the time for President Trump to decide if he will keep his promises by supporting this legislation, or will he go along to get along with congressional Republicans who have embraced the status quo and blocked this legislation that puts in place a strong Buy America standard,” Baldwin will say.