Lipinski Introduces "Buy American" Bill to Create Jobs, Says Taxpayer Dollars Should Buy American-Made Products (August 30, 2011)

Today, Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) announced he has introduced the Buy American Improvement Act, H.R. 2722, to create jobs by eliminating loopholes in existing Buy American laws so that taxpayer money buys products made in the United States, not in foreign countries. The bill is part of Lipinski’s job-creation plan, which he released last month.

“For many years I have been calling on Washington to focus on job creation, and with the debt-ceiling fight behind us, there are no excuses left,” Congressman Lipinski said. “Loopholes in the Buy American Act and lax enforcement of the law by Washington bureaucrats are putting taxpayer dollars in the pockets of foreign workers at a time when 14 million Americans are unemployed. The Buy American Improvement Act will create tens of thousands of American jobs by making sure the federal government buys products stamped ‘Made in U.S.A.’ whenever possible. In recent years, more than 20 percent of Commerce Department purchases have come from abroad, the Defense Department has waived Buy American rules 44,000 times, and the Treasury Department couldn’t find a single domestic producer of office furniture. That is unacceptable, and the situation is probably even worse than we think because agency reporting is so poor.”

A recent poll by the Alliance for American Manufacturing found that 80 percent of Americans favor Buy American policies and a large majority believes Washington is not doing enough to support American manufacturing. Yet Americans’ tax dollars continue to be sent abroad, with one of the latest examples being The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, one of the most expensive structures ever built, which is being fabricated in China and shipped to California.

The Buy American Improvement Act bans practices used by federal agencies to skirt Buy American requirements, such as segmenting projects so that they do not meet the minimum dollar amount at which the rules apply – as Congressman Lipinski found the Census Bureau did last year. It also restores the definition of an American-made product to one that contains at least 75 percent domestic content, up from 50 percent. In addition to tightening waiver requirements to prevent the purchase of foreign goods, it requires better reporting by agencies to make sure they are complying with the law.

 “Passage of the Buy American Improvement Act would be an important step in the advancement of a robust and comprehensive manufacturing strategy, which will enhance the ability of our manufacturing companies and their workers to compete both here at home and globally,” said Scott Boos, Deputy Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. “We thank Rep. Lipinski for his efforts and for standing up for American companies and their workers.”

H.R. 2722 would also prohibit counting components not available domestically as American-made; require the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to clarify when compliance with the Buy American Act would be “inconsistent with the public interest,” and establishes that domestic job creation is in the public interest; eliminate the automatic exception to the Buy American Act for goods used abroad; require the Government Accountability Office to analyze agencies’ procurement reports; and require the act is applied in a manner consistent with America’s trade obligations.

“We’ve had Buy American rules on the books for nearly eight decades – and for good reason,” Congressman Lipinski said. “Americans’ tax dollars ought to support American jobs. With this bill, I continue to fight for that principle.”

The bill is endorsed by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the United Steelworkers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the National Council of Textile Organizations, the Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, the U.S. Industrial Fabrics Institute, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, and the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

(August 30, 2011)