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Biden to force federal agencies to buy American after accusing Trump of botching same plan

Gustaf Kilander
·2-min read
Biden Manufacturing (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Biden Manufacturing (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

President Joe Biden will sign an executive order with the goal of invigorating American manufacturing, fulfilling a promise from the campaign trail to boost the rules dictating that federal agencies buy American goods and services.

The order will require agencies to strengthen their rules that oversee the purchasing of goods and services from American workers and businesses. The order will also create a position in the office of management and budget to enforce the rule by attempting to limit the number of waivers government contractors get from the "Buy America" regulations.

During the campaign, Mr Biden called for a four-year increase in government purchases of US services and products totalling $400 billion, according to NBC News.

President Trump signed similar orders, but they had little effect as changes were not confirmed until his second to last day in office, CNN writes.

A Biden official, criticising the Trump administration's efforts, said: “When you look at the outcome, there was no real material change in either the way in which domestic content was measured, the stringency of the domestic content requirements, or the utilization of waivers to the Buy America provisions. So, you know, in practice, nothing happened.”

Mr Biden will set a deadline of 180 days for agencies to deliver significant change in the process to achieve the goal.

"He believes we can rebuild the vitality of American manufacturing and our industrial strength. A big piece of that is centred around the idea that when we use taxpayer money to rebuild America, we buy American and we support American jobs," an administration official said according to CNN.

Read more: Follow live updates on the beginning of the Biden presidency

Requirements on government purchases of American goods and services already exist, but it's ruled by a patchwork of regulations with loopholes depending on the kind of purchase a government entity is about to make. To close those loopholes, Mr Biden's order will change the definition of what constitutes American products and services, how they are measured, and raise the threshold for required purchases.

Smaller US manufacturers often ignored in this process, will get a chance to get a larger piece of the pie as the administration will create a public website where all waiver requests from the requirements will be published, and agencies will be directed to actively connect with smaller US firms to boost American manufacturing and industry.

“The goal is to make sure that companies can't undermine or get around the purpose of the Made in America rules by importing largely foreign-made products, making modest changes or tweaks on shore that add little value for American workers or American industry, don't actually utilize America's manufacturing capabilities, and will also close loopholes so that content rules drive new opportunities for American businesses and workers,” a senior administration official said according to ABC News.

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