Trump Expands ‘Buy American’ Order to Federal Infrastructure Projects

President Trump is encouraging federal agencies to buy American-made products with an executive order signed late last week. This order builds on a previous executive order calling for federal financial assistance awards to provide preference to goods, products, and materials produced in the United States. Under the expanded measure, “domestic preference” covers not only iron and steel, but also products containing aluminum, plastics, concrete, glass, and lumber.

The executive order on Strengthening Buy-American Preferences for Infrastructure Projects encourages agency heads to seek out American-manufactured goods in every contract, subcontract, purchase order, and sub-award.

Agency leaders were given several benchmarks for increasing their business with American-made products in the near future.

Within 90 days, agency administrators working with covered programs are ordered to encourage recipients of federal financial assistance to use American-made products.  Within 120 days, each agency head is ordered to present a strategy plan to the president and U.S. Trade Representative on ways to use more American-made products.

The order was specifically aimed at encouraging that American-made products be used in infrastructure projects. The order defines infrastructure to include the traditional roadways, bridges, railroads, transit, etc., and also cybersecurity infrastructure.

White House advisor Pete Navarro explained, “These programs create good manufacturing jobs at good wages and thereby help lift workers into middle class prosperity.”

Navarro also noted what generally is and is not covered by this order, “If an agency like the Department of Transportation spends money directly on the construction of a road or a bridge or some other piece of infrastructure, Buy American generally comes into play. But if an agency provides indirect support through this federal financial assistance such as loans, loan guarantees or grants, Buy American may not apply.”

Last year during the State of the Union address, President Trump announced plans for a massive infrastructure project. Senior administration officials told reporters last week that he is expected to revisit the issue during the State of the Union this year.

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