“I don’t but for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past,” Biden said during a press event on Monday. “American manufacturing … must be part of the engine of American prosperity now. That means we are going to use taxpayers’ money to rebuild America – we’ll buy American products and support American jobs.”
Biden said one way he planned to use taxpayers’ dollars to “rebuild America” was to ensure that the $600 billion the government spends annually on procurement goes towards supporting American – not foreign – jobs and businesses.
The president said there’s a law that’s been in place for roughly 100 years towards those ends, but “these previous administration didn’t take it serious enough,” alleging that federal agencies waived the “buy American” requirement and that big corporations have long fought for loopholes to redirect those taxpayer dollars to foreign companies.
Under the Trump administration, Biden said, the federal government’s contracts and awards given to foreign companies went up 30%.
“The result? Tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars supporting foreign jobs and foreign industries,” Biden explained.
Biden’s Buy American agenda hinges on investing in American products and companies “up and down the supply chain.
He signed an executive order on Monday aimed at increasing factory jobs, which have slumped by 540,000 since the pandemic began last year.
Biden’s order would modify the rules for the Buy American program, making it harder for contractors to qualify for a waiver and sell foreign-made goods to federal agencies. It also changes rules so that more of a manufactured good’s components must originate from U.S. factories. America-made goods would also be protected by an increase in the government’s threshold and price preferences, the difference in price over which the government can buy a foreign product.
While Trump also issued a series of executive actions and tariffs with the goal of boosting manufacturing, he didn’t attempt to rewrite the guidance for what constitutes a U.S.-made component or tighten the process for granting exemptions to buy foreign goods, a key difference from Biden’s agenda, Biden’s administration said.
Biden has signed a slew of executive orders during his first days in office as his broader $1.9 trillion economic recovery plan shows few signs of advancing through Congress.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.