Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Dan Lipinski Calls on President Obama to Buy American
WASHINGTON,DC - As the House and Senate worked to reconcile their differences on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL) was joined by Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL) and 34 other members of Congress in a letter urging the President to support "Buy American" provisions and to better enforce existing Buy American laws.
"Congress is considering a bill that would spend almost 1 trillion American taxpayer dollars to get the economy moving again and put people back to work," said Lipinski, "Every one should agree that whenever possible, federal, state, and local government contractors should spend the stimulus grants to help American industries and American workers."
"Whether you support the final stimulus bill or not," added Manzullo, "we should all agree that its main focus should be on creating American jobs, not more jobs overseas. A Buy American provision will help ensure that any ‘stimulus' spending supports American jobs."
The Buy American Act of 1933 requires the federal government to support domestic manufacturers and workers by purchasing American-made goods, but it is riddled with loopholes and is frequently waived, often for the vague reason that it is in the "public interest" to do so. Lipinski has called on President Obama to recognize that it is in the public interest to Buy American and to crack down on illegitimate waivers by exposing them to public scrutiny. Lipinski has also fought to add a strong, transparent "Buy American" provisions in the Recovery Act.
"We may have only one chance to get this right," stated Lipinski, "and it would be devastating to borrow and spend this much money only to watch it go abroad while more American factories close and more Americans lose their livelihoods."
Dear President Obama:
As you know all too well, America faces a recession that could linger for years and an unemployment rate nearing double digits. In response, Congress is considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an immediate and dramatic measure designed to jumpstart our economy. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has indicated that your administration is reviewing "Buy American" provisions in the bill, and we write today to urge you to support such provisions.
Despite our differences on the merits of some items in the Recovery Act, we can all agree that any money spent under the banner of "stimulus" should directly create or retain American jobs to the greatest degree possible. The stimulus package contains investments in our transportation, education, and energy infrastructures. While this kind of spending is guaranteed to support good-paying construction jobs for American workers, the purchase of American-made materials and equipment will underscore and multiply those benefits.
In addition to the steel needed to rebuild our bridges, American companies are ready to produce the insulation, windows, solar panels, smart meters, fiber optics, advanced batteries, and other goods called for in this package. Strong "Buy American" provisions will help ensure that this happens wherever practicable.
Although the Buy American Act of 1933 ostensibly requires the federal government to buy from domestic suppliers, its provisions are frequently waived, often for the vague reason that it is in "the public interest" to do so. You have rightly emphasized that transparency is an essential component of good government. This is true nowhere more so than in a spending bill of this magnitude. We hope that you will seize this opportunity to make the application of any "Buy American" laws more transparent by requiring that applications for waivers be publicly posted on the website Recovery.gov along with a detailed justification for any waivers granted.
We recognize that there are legitimate justifications for granting waivers. We also believe that it is in the public interest to "Buy American." Homegrown manufacturing capabilities are not only vital to the American economy but also a national security imperative. We cannot afford to lose our nation's competitive edge or the productive foundation of our economy.
We are not looking to erect trade barriers, only to help assure American taxpayers that their money is being directly spent to create or retain American jobs to the greatest degree possible. Spending the nearly $1 trillion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act here at home is prudent policy and will help America get back to work.
Thank you for your time and attention regarding this critical issue.