The Biden administration unveiled a new proposed regulation today that would ensure purchases made by the federal government support products manufactured and services provided by American workers, following through on a promise President Biden made when he first took office earlier this year.
The Teamsters commend the Office of Management and Budget, and especially the Buy America Director, Celeste Drake, for the whole-of-government approach in this historic and timely initiative during Buy America Week.
As part of the notice of proposed rulemaking, U.S.-made content in the products the American government buys would increase from 55 percent now to 75 percent in 2029, the largest such proposed change in the Buy American Act since it was implemented almost 90 years ago. Under the proposal, mandated American content would rise to 60 percent upon implementation and grow to 65 percent in 2024 before reaching the 75 percent threshold.
The Teamsters have long advocated for a beefing up of Buy American procedures, and are delighted by the action taken by the administration. “U.S. workers are the best in the world,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said. “We are pleased to see the Biden administration believes that too by insisting that the federal government buy more of the products and services that hardworking Americans provide.”
The potential effect on U.S. jobs is significant. With $600 billion in annual procurement spending, almost half of which is in manufactured products from helicopter blades to trucks to office furniture, the federal government is a major buyer in a number of markets for goods and services, including the single largest purchaser of consumer goods in the world.
Leveraging that purchasing power to shape markets and accelerate innovation is a key part of the White House’s strategy to grow the industries of the future to support U.S. workers. As the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated, federal procurement can strengthen the resiliency of domestic supply chains and reduce the risk of Americans being adversely impacted by the actions of competitor nations during a time of crisis.
The rulemaking would also increase transparency and accountability in the Buy American rule by establishing a reporting requirement for critical products. The new reporting requirement would bolster compliance with the Buy American Act and improve data on the actual U.S. content of goods purchased.
The work doesn’t stop here though. We will work with the Biden administration to expand these efforts to include more of the National School Lunch Act, which currently is going through the reauthorization process. Current regulatory exceptions exist that shield too much of what’s purchased to feed the nation’s school children from Buy America provisions. Teamsters working in the food processing sector, as well as U.S. farmers, risk not enjoying any of the benefits of robust procurement upgrades if changes aren’t made. It is our goal to expand the whole-of-government domestic content approach to the school lunch program as America’s students prepare to return to class in the fall.
Today’s rulemaking is a win for workers. It is well past time that hardworking Americans are recognized by their leaders and rewarded for their efforts. That’s how this nation can and will Build Back Stronger.