Steel industry hails Buy American executive order

NWI Times

The steel industry is hailing a Buy American, Hire American executive order as a boon for steel mills and the steel industry.

It widens requirements for the federal government to purchase American-made steel for projects. The order encourages federal agencies to expand Buy American mandates beyond direct government purchases and also apply the required use of American-made steel and other goods to loans, grants, interest subsidies and other forms of federal assistance.

“I appreciate the executive order today from the Trump Administration to ensure that American taxpayer dollars are used to purchase American iron and steel products," said U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, who's repeatedly advanced Buy American legislation in the past. "I am pleased that this order reinforces the statutory requirements established by Congress, and we must continue to find every opportunity we can to preserve and expand Buy American policies to support good-paying jobs throughout our nation.”

American Iron and Steel Institute President and CEO Thomas Gibson said it was a step toward ensuring the American steel industry remains competitive through "the fullest possible implementation and enforcement of existing domestic procurement laws."

“Strong domestic procurement preferences for federally funded infrastructure projects are vital to the health of the domestic steel industry, and have helped create manufacturing jobs and build American infrastructure," he said.

Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a joint enterprise between the United Steelworkers union and industry, said more still needs to be done, such as by strengthening Buy American laws in Congress and requiring federal agencies to apply them to any and all areas where they do not currently apply.

"The president should take the next step and use his executive powers to actually require agencies to apply Buy America rules where they do not currently apply," Paul said. "And, he should work with lawmakers to strengthen Buy America as Congress develops an infrastructure package. There is already strong bipartisan congressional backing and overwhelming voter support for these policies, making it the perfect issue for the president and Congress to work on together."

The federal government can wield its sheer size and scope to better support manufacturing in this country, Paul said.

"Americans expect their hard-earned tax dollars to be spent on American-made goods. Yet, billions are spent on imported items each year for government procurement, military and infrastructure purposes," he said. "The United States is the world's biggest customer. Its buying power can be a strong incentive to encourage companies to undertake manufacturing in the United States and employ American workers."

Taxpayer money should be used to only buy American-made products to support good-paying American jobs, Steel Manufacturers Association President Philip K. Bell said.

“Buy American programs support American businesses and create good paying jobs for American workers," he said. "The SMA is pleased to see Buy American principles encouraged for use in government-funded projects."