- The Washington Times - Monday, January 25, 2021

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday intended to strengthen and codify existing “Buy American” requirements in the federal procurement process.

The order increases the amount of a product that has to be manufactured domestically to qualify as “made” in the United States, appoints a new position within the White House budget office to oversee implementation of the order, and reiterates Mr. Biden’s support for the Jones Act, which mandates that commercial ships transporting cargo between U.S. ports be made in the United States.

“The key plank of ensuring the future will be ‘Made in America,’” Mr. Biden said at a White House event.

Former President Trump and his administration tried to emphasize a “Buy American” attitude as well.

The Trump administration had already moved to change Buy American statutes to increase the domestic content requirement for most goods from 50% to more than 55% of the cost of all components.

For iron and steel end products, the Trump administration had moved to increase the threshold to 95%.

The order Mr. Biden signed on Monday directs the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to consider an unspecified increase to the threshold for domestic content requirements.

Mr. Trump signed an executive order in 2017 saying that it was executive branch policy to maximize the use of goods and products made in the United States in the federal procurement process.

The Biden administration says Mr. Trump’s moves in the area were mostly for show and didn’t end up having much practical effect.

Critics of “Buy American” policies and measures like the Jones Act say they drive up costs to taxpayers and almost never end up having the anticipated positive effects on U.S. production and manufacturing.

Former Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a Libertarian, introduced a bill last month to repeal the Jones Act.

“The Jones Act fails to achieve its aims and increases costs for all Americans, but it survives because of lobbying by the special interests who benefit from its protectionism,” Mr. Amash said then.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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