Biden announces new 'Buy American' agenda

By Tony Bertuca / January 25, 2021 at 12:15 PM

President Biden will sign an executive order today seeking to "reset" the U.S. government's approach to "domestic preferences" when it comes to manufacturing, according to a White House announcement.

"The president's executive order establishes the goals and standards necessary to use federal purchasing, and other forms of federal assistance with domestic preference requirements, as a way to proactively invest in American industry so it can continue to lead in the global marketplace," the White House said.

The order, which is expected to be released today, will close loopholes that allow companies to offshore production and jobs while still qualifying for domestic preferences, according to the White House.

"Existing Buy American rules establish a domestic content threshold -- the amount of a product that must be made in the U.S. for a purchase to qualify under Buy American law," the White House said. "This executive order directs an increase in both the threshold and the price preferences for domestic goods -- the difference in price over which government can by a product from a non-US supplier. It also updates how government decides if a product was sufficiently made in America."

Additionally, the order appoints a new senior leader at the White House Office of Management and Budget in charge of the government's Made-in-America policy. The new official will oversee implementation of the executive order.

The order also directs a cross-agency review of all domestic preferences.

"The order requires agencies to report on their implementation of current Made in America laws and make recommendations for achieving the President's Made in America goals, and to continue to do so on a bi-annual basis," the White House said.

Agencies will be required to submit recommendations for ways to ensure "items offered to the general public on federal property are Made in America -- to the fullest extent possible -- and to consider service industries in addition to manufacturing."

The order also creates a central review of agency waivers of Buy American requirements "to crack down on unnecessary waivers."

The General Services Administration is also being directed to publish "relevant waivers" on a publicly available website.

The National Defense Industrial Association released a statement backing Biden's new executive order.

NDIA said it "endorses the stated goals of supporting American manufacturing capabilities and technology, strengthening our national security and giving American companies and their workforces the tools needed to compete and win globally."

The association highlighted the establishment of an OMB director of Made-in-America policy and the instituting of cross-agency reviews as "good first steps."