January 25, 2021—As one of his first actions made in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Monday aimed at ensuring American-made products are favored when purchases are made by federal agencies.
“Federal law requires government agencies to give preferences to American firms,” the press release reads, “however, these preferences have not always been implemented consistently or effectively.”
The new executive order—one of many signed by Biden during his first week in office—is intended to tighten restrictions and close loopholes that have allowed agencies to waive those requirements, and direct agencies to utilize the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a public-private partnership that serves small and medium-size manufacturing.
It will also create a new “Director of Made-in-America” position in the Office of Management and Budget to oversee the implementation of the order.
“I don’t buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past. American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War II and it must be part of the engine of American prosperity now,” Biden said, speaking during a press conference ahead of signing the order. “That means we are going to use taxpayers’ money to rebuild America. We’ll buy American products and support American jobs, union jobs.
“We will invest hundreds of billions of dollars in buying American products and materials to modernize our infrastructure and our competitive strength will increase in the competitive world,” he said.
Importantly, Biden intends to extend the provisions to IT products, which are currently exempt from these rules. This will follow a review. He emphasized the importance of using US-manufactured steel and technology while rebuilding infrastructure to be climate resilient.
Some economic and policy experts disagree with the “Buy American” effort, as reported by the New York Times, because they say it could raise prices for the government, reduce the availability of goods, or cost American jobs.
Federal efforts to bolster U.S. manufacturing date back to 1933 when the Buy American Act went into effect. There have been various other federal regulations since then, including recent executive orders by former-President Donald Trump.