President Biden signed an executive order Monday aimed at promoting the “Buy American” agenda he campaigned on last year, which seeks to bolster U.S. manufacturing through the federal procurement process.
The executive order directs agencies to strengthen requirements about purchasing products and services from U.S. workers and businesses, cuts some red tape and creates a position in the Office of Management and Budget responsible for enforcing the directive.
The order also reiterates the Biden administration’s support for the Jones Act, which limits foreign maritime shipping between U.S. ports to U.S.-made and -owned vessels.
The president added that as part of this executive order, the federal government will move to replace its fleet of vehicles with American-made electric cars over time. He also noted a push to replenish federal stockpiles, noting the ongoing pandemic.
“As this pandemic has made clear, we can never again rely on a foreign country that doesn’t share our interest to protect our people in a national emergency,” Biden said.
Biden contrasted his new “Buy American” policies with those of the Trump administration, which Biden said did not go far enough to protect American manufacturing jobs and businesses.
“The federal government every year spends approximately $600 billion in government procurement to keep the country going, safe and secure. And there’s a law that’s been on the books for almost a century now to make sure that that money when spent, taxpayers dollars for procurement, is spent to support American jobs and American businesses. But the previous administration didn’t take it seriously enough,” Biden said at an event at the White House on Monday.
He added that under the Trump administration, federal agencies waived the “Buy American” requirements with little pushback.
“Under the previous administration, the federal government contract awarded directly to foreign companies went up 30%. That is going to change on our watch,” Biden said.
During the campaign, Biden proposed a Buy American plan calling for a $400 billion, four-year increase in government purchasing of U.S.-made products and services.
“It’s based on his view that we are making things in America and all of America is core to our economic strategy,” an administration official told reporters Sunday, adding that the order is part of a broader effort to “strengthen supply chains” and “modernize international trade rules.”
Taking questions after signing the order, Biden spoke of how he seeks for future Covid-19 relief legislation to be “bipartisan,” adding that the legislative package is only at the very start of the negotiating process.
“We’re going to argue like hell, I’m confident in that, believe me, I know that,” Biden said. “I’ve been there. But I think we can do it in a way that we can get things done for the American people.”
Both Democrats and Republicans, industry groups, and unions offered support for the executive order.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., called it “a big step in the right direction for American manufacturers” while Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., called the order “welcome news for American workers and businesses that desperately need federal investments for their survival.”
United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble called the order “a powerful statement of solidarity with our hard-working brothers and sisters.” And American Maritime Partnership President Mike Roberts said his group is “very grateful for the administration’s support.”
Biden has already signed a number of executive actions through the first three days as president, many aimed to race the legacy of his predecessor former President Donald Trump. It including halting border wall construction and funding, canceling the Trump’s 1776 commission, and erased the presidential approval of the Keystone XL pipeline permit.