Senators Want to Create a New Website to Help U.S. Manufacturers Win Federal Contracts

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Digital Media Manager, AAM

bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation on Thursday to create a new website to help American manufacturers land more federal contracts — and reduce the number of Buy American waivers given to federal agencies.

Approximately $34 billion in taxpayer dollars were paid to foreign manufacturers in the last five years. Under existing Buy American laws, federal projects like bridge building must utilize domestically manufactured goods and materials like steel, as long they are available and reasonably priced. But agencies have used waivers to get around Buy American, and domestic manufacturers are clearly losing out on substantial opportunities.

The new legislation aims to shine a light on the process and ensure federal agencies abide by Buy American by creating BuyAmerican.gov, a central, publicly available website that will collect and display information about each requested Buy American waiver. Manufacturers and others would then be able to identify contract opportunities, and federal agencies can be held accountable for abusing the waiver process.

“We must do everything we can to protect and maximize American jobs, and that starts by ensuring that our tax dollars aren’t used to create jobs overseas,” said Sen. Rob Portman, (R-Ohio), who introduced the bill alongside Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). 

“Our bill would go a much-needed step further,” said Murphy. “It would strengthen and provide transparency of our Buy American laws, which I’ve been working on since I came to Congress, and provide opportunities for U.S. manufacturers to compete to boost our economy and help secure the national security supply chain.”

Buy American waivers have consequences far beyond lost income for individual companies. Domestic manufacturers have faced significant challenges in recent years, and federal contracts can play a crucial role in preserving manufacturers, particularly those who are critical to our national security, as well as sustaining the communities and families that depend on these manufacturing jobs.

And it just doesn't make sense to send tax dollars overseas when American workers and companies are ready to do the job here at a reasonable price.

"Taxpayer dollars should support American-made products, and our federal agencies should lead the way in promoting U.S. jobs and products," Brown said. "American workers are the best at what they do, and our federal agencies should always look to them first when awarding government contracts." 

Buy American has strong backing from the public as well. Recent polling found that 80% of likely voters support these laws, and 76% were in favor of the creation of a public website that discloses any time that government agencies or contractors try to get around Buy American laws and use foreign goods.

Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Mike Bost (R-Ill.) are jointly reintroducing companion legislation in the House.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work