What was once a largely partisan issue now seems to be a unifying topic for lawmakers. Last month, President Biden issued an executive order tightening rules for government agencies to choose domestic suppliers over foreign manufacturers. His campaign touched heavily on the importance of American manufacturing and the American worker–something that former President Trump also valued.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) was one of the first democratic senators to support Trump’s Buy American initiatives and form an unlikely alliance. Now, he’s continuing that message and applauding Biden for sticking to his promise.
“I think Biden understands a real opportunity for bipartisan cooperation,” Murphy said in an interview. “He’s borrowing from Trump’s platform. He sees it as a good policy and can bring the country together.”
Murphy recently introduced two new provisions for the Buy American policy that would tighten rules even further.
Firstly, he would like to close loopholes allowing federal agencies to waive Buy American requirements. This means the government would rarely be able to use a “public interest waiver” without considering long- and short-term effects on U.S. employment.
When certain materials aren’t available domestically to U.S. manufacturers, the bill calls for the Department of Defense to establish a loan guarantee program so that U.S. companies can compete with manufacturers overseas.
Secondly, the bill calls for an added element to consider when selecting government contract manufacturers. The section is “jobs impact statements” which, in addition to price, past performance, and other factors, discloses how many jobs that manufacturer plans to create and keep in the U.S. if selected by the government.
Murphy is unsure of when the senate will decide on these new bills due to more time sensitive topics during Biden’s first couple months, but he’s sure that the support will be bipartisan. Especially after heavy relience on Chinese suppliers left shipping containers “piling up” in Wuhan during the beginning of the pandemic, according to Jamison Scott, executive director of ManufactureCT, which represents Connecticut manufacturers. A domestic supply chain would eliminate this problem in the future.
“This is one of those issues when you talk about it, everybody’s heads nod,” Murphy said. “You don’t use taxpayer dollars to buy products of overseas companies.”