Dems press Trump for ‘Buy American’ proposals in infrastructure plan

Greg Nash

A group of Democratic senators is pushing President Trump to include “Buy American” and “Hire American” proposals in his long-awaited infrastructure plan.

In a letter to the president dated Friday, nine Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with the Democratic Party, argued Trump must include these principles to deliver on his promises to American manufacturers and the middle class.

“As you draft your infrastructure proposal, we encourage you to not only protect existing ‘Buy America’ laws, but to work with Congress to expand these protections and address coverage gaps,” the lawmakers write.

{mosads}“In addition, no infrastructure proposal should allow circumvention of current requirements in federal law that ensure our public infrastructure is built with American-made iron, steel, and manufactured materials by workers who are paid a fair wage.”

Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who sit on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, both signed the letter. The other signatories are Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

Trump has long promised to include “Buy American, Hire American” proposals in a plan to rebuild America’s roads, bridges and transit systems, even expressing support last year for Democratic legislation that would increase federal requirements to use American-made iron and steel in some drinking water-infrastructure projects.

But the senators point out that a report Trump detailed during a trip to Wisconsin last April to sign his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order was due in November and has yet to be finished. 

“We urge you to expedite its completion and publicly share its findings with fellow supporters of ‘Buy America’ policy in Congress in order to achieve our shared goals,” the lawmakers write. 

“Buy American” supporters are worried that the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan puts too much emphasis on states and local governments raising their own funds, which would not be subject to federal “Buy American” standards.

Trump is expected to discuss the administration’s infrastructure proposal during Tuesday’s annual State of the Union address, with a plan soon to follow. But a leaked memo purporting to include the administration’s principles suggests half of the plan’s appropriations would go toward an incentive program to promote private and local investment in projects through grants. A quarter of the appropriations would be for a program dedicated to promoting investment in rural areas.

The president said last week he would discuss a $1.7 trillion infrastructure package during his speech in front of Congress. The White House has proposed using $200 billion in federal money for an infrastructure plan that would garner private and local investment for an overall package of $1 trillion.

Tags Bernie Sanders Bob Casey Brian Schatz Chris Murphy Debbie Stabenow Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Infrastructure Jeanne Shaheen Jeff Merkley Sherrod Brown Tammy Baldwin White House
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