Last week, President Biden signed an executive order aimed at strengthening ‘Buy American’ policies to help U.S. manufacturing regrowth efforts.
“I don’t buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past,” Biden told reporters before signing the order. “American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War Two and it must be part of the engine of American prosperity now.”
The order closes loopholes in the previous ‘Buy American’ policies that became all too common, along with created a senior White House role to oversee the entire process and new rules.
With U.S. manufacturing currently only making up about 12% of the U.S. economy, Biden’s plan s to boost domestic manufacturing and, in turn, create American jobs, drive up wages, and support small businesses in order to strengthen U.S. supply chains. The push is similar to that of past presidents, including Donald Trump.
“As this pandemic has made clear, we can never again rely on a foreign country that doesn’t share our interest to protect our people in a national emergency,” he said.
In past decades, the allure of cheap Chinese labor and little-to-no environmental regulations brought many American manufacturers offshore. This has left gaps in critical areas of the U.S. supply chain that have been exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and interruptions.
“America can’t sit on the sidelines in the race to the future. Our competitors aren’t waiting,” Biden said. “To ensure the future is made in America, we need to win not just the jobs of today, but the jobs and industries of tomorrow.”
This order is a direct attempt at limiting the federal government’s purchases of foreign goods and supplies. The order directs federal agencies to reevaluate the threshold used to determine U.S. goods and content, in order to prevent companies that sell to the government from importing largely foreign-made goods and selling them as U.S.-made after making minor tweaks domestically.
New percentages for required U.S. content will be determined as a result of the process.
Agencies will also now be required to utilize the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a national network in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, which connects small and medium-sized manufacturers to contract opportunities while helping agencies connect to new domestic suppliers who can make the products they need while also employing America’s workers.
The order also emphasizes Biden’s support of the Jones Act, a mandate that only U.S. ships may carry cargo between U.S. ports. This is seen as an opportunity to invest in America’s workers while building offshore renewable energy.
“President Biden’s executive action will ensure that the federal government is investing taxpayer dollars in American businesses—both small and large. These investments will help create well-paid, union jobs, and build our economy back better so that everybody has a fair shot at the middle class,” The White House said in a statement. “They will buy from all of America—including minority entrepreneurs and businesses in every region in our country. And, they will support the manufacturing capabilities and technology needed to build a clean energy future and strengthen our national security, and give our workers and companies the tools they need to compete globally for decades to come.”