WASHINGTON, DC — In light of evidence that U.S. federal agencies have granted an excessive number of waivers to Buy American laws in the last few years, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Chris Murphy (D-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today introduced the BuyAmerican.gov Act, legislation that will establish a centralized online hub to increase transparency and ensure federal agencies prioritize the purchase of American-made goods in compliance with existing law. Under current law, federal agencies may use domestic content waivers to Buy American laws to purchase goods or services from foreign companies only in certain circumstances: for example, when an American-made good is unavailable or will significantly increase the cost of a product. However, federal agencies overuse this waiver authority and there is currently no easily-accessible government-wide system tracking the use and abuse of these waivers by federal agencies.
The bipartisan legislation will direct the General Services Administration to establish a central, publicly-available website, at the link currently known as BuyAmerican.gov, to collect and display information about each requested waiver to Buy American laws. This website will allow manufacturers and other interested parties to identify contract opportunities and hold federal agencies accountable for abusing Buy American waivers. The measure also will give manufacturers the chance to challenge pending waivers sought by federal agencies. President Biden’s recent Buy American executive order proposes a website for the same purpose.
“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. I was pleased to see President Biden agree with me about the need for a website to better identify contracting opportunities American manufacturers,” said Portman. “By improving transparency, the BuyAmerican.gov Act will encourage federal agencies to support American workers and American jobs by faithfully complying with Buy American laws. This is a bipartisan bill that is needed now to help support American jobs.”
“It’s simple—U.S. taxpayer dollars should be spent on American goods and prioritize American jobs. The bipartisan BuyAmerican.gov Act would strengthen the transparency of our Buy American laws, and give Connecticut manufacturers more opportunities to compete for government contracts. For years, I’ve been pushing administrations to Buy American and in the first 100 days, President Biden has shown his commitment to put American manufacturers first. I’m glad to see our efforts gaining more bipartisan traction and am hopeful we can strengthen the American supply chain and boost our economy,” said Murphy.
“We streamline procurement and bring transparency to the process,” said Graham. “These important changes will bring a much-needed system of checks-and-balances to the current waiver process. The pandemic has been a painful wake-up call that we are too reliant on other nations for important manufactured goods. I look forward to working with the Biden Administration and my colleagues in the Senate to make sure manufacturers in South Carolina and across the United States are prioritized when it comes to the bidding and awarding of contracts.”
“We cannot allow foreign companies to continue to undercut our domestic industries. Without Buy America rules, we are allowing manufacturing to go elsewhere at the expense of taxpayers,” said Brown. “It’s simple: American tax dollars should go toward American-made projects that support American jobs. Period.”
“American workers and manufacturers are the best in the world,” said Stabenow. “This bill will help make sure they are first in line when it comes to government contracts and spending. It’s common sense that American tax dollars should be used to create American jobs by purchasing American-made products, not products made overseas.”
NOTE: In addition to creating the BuyAmerican.gov website, the bipartisan bill codifies President Trump’s 2017 Buy American Executive Order and requires agencies to report on the implementation of, and compliance with, Buy American laws.