WISCONSINREPORT.COM (12/03/2009) - As the Obama administration hosts a jobs summit, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) is continuing his efforts to support American jobs by urging the president to support Buy American requirements. Feingold led a group of members of Congress in asking the president to include strong and effective Buy American requirements in any legislative proposals developed during the White House jobs summit.
Feingold is a long-time champion of Buy American efforts to require the government to purchase American-made goods whenever possible to help create and support American jobs.
Feingold is also the author of the Buy American Improvement Act, a bill to strengthen Buy American requirements by narrowing loopholes that allow federal agencies to buy foreign goods in some circumstances.
"With unemployment near double digits in Wisconsin and already over ten percent nationally, the federal government should be doing everything it can to support American workers," Feingold said.
"I commend President Obama for focusing on getting Americans back to work with this jobs summit. As his administration works with business leaders to develop proposals to lower unemployment, it should include Buy American provisions to encourage the purchase of American-made goods and support American jobs," Senator Feingold said.
In addition to pushing Buy American requirements, Feingold is also working to create jobs by proposing a jobs tax credit to encourage businesses to hire workers.
Feingold and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) urged the president to include a jobs tax credit in whatever proposal comes out of the White House jobs summit. A fact sheet on Feingold’s jobs tax credit proposal is available here.
A copy of Feingold’s letter to the president encouraging Buy American provisions is included below and a copy can be downloaded here.
Under current law, the federal government is supposed to support American manufacturers and American workers by buying goods made in the U.S., but the law contains loopholes that allow agencies to buy foreign goods in some circumstances.
The Buy American Improvement Act would strengthen American manufacturing by making it harder to waive Buy American requirements.
Here are some excerpts from the U.S. Senator Russ Feingold letter to President Barck Obama, dated December 3, 2009:
"Thank you for hosting a White House forum on promoting job growth and economic development with some of our nation’s leading economic, business, and labor experts. With unemployed workers in the United States facing a double digit unemployment rate, the highest rate since 1983, this forum could not come at a more critical time for our nation’s workforce," the letter reads.
"We need to do all we can to promote fiscally responsible federal policies that support the creation of American jobs to help get the unemployed and underemployed back to work. To maximize the benefit of such policies for American workers, we urge you to include strong and effective Buy American and domestic sourcing requirements in any legislative proposals developed by your administration in response to this jobs forum," the letter to President Obama from Senator Feingold states.
"The primary goal of any future jobs bill should be to create or preserve jobs here in the United States," Feingold states.
"Many unemployed American workers are currently facing persistently long periods of unemployment; data from the Department of Labor showed that in October of this year, over thirty-five percent of unemployed workers had been without jobs for at least twenty-seven weeks," the Feingold letter continues.
Since December of 2007, the number of unemployed workers in the United States has grown by over eight million, with manufacturing and construction workers being particularly hard hit.
During another period of economic upheaval in the 1930s, Congress passed a series of laws designed to promote job growth in the U.S., including the Buy American Act of 1933 (41 U.S.C. §10a-10d).
The Buy American Act requires the federal government to support domestic manufacturers and workers by purchasing American-made goods.
Over the years, other domestic sourcing legislation has been passed to help support American industry, including the Buy America Act (23 U.S.C. §313), which applies to federal transportation funding.
In addition, Congress included domestic sourcing requirements in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) earlier this year because it recognized the importance of supporting American workers and American industry.
"The federal government should renew its commitment to supporting American industry by including strong domestic sourcing provisions in any future jobs bill," Senator Feingold says.
"In addition to including Buy American or other domestic sourcing provisions in any jobs bill, we also encourage to you to ensure these provisions are drafted in such a manner to ensure they are effective and cannot be easily circumvented," Feingold writes in the letter to President Obama.
"As you know, the Buy American Act can be waived by federal agencies for a variety of reasons including if the law’s application would be inconsistent with the public interest or if materials are not manufactured in sufficient quantity in the United States," Feingold points out in the letter.
"Similar waiver provisions were included in the ARRA Buy American provision (P.L. 115-5, §1605). While there should be a reasonable waiver process included in domestic sourcing provisions to address situations where American-made goods may not be available or are prohibitively expensive, there are so many loopholes in the Buy American Act that much of the law’s strength has been diluted," Feingold explains to President Obama in the letter.
"We will continue to work to close these loopholes and we hope that your administration will also seek to address these implementation problems in any domestic sourcing provisions included in possible jobs-related legislation," Senator Feingold states in the letter.
Senator Feingold concluded the letter to President Obama by saying he looks forward to working with the President "to include strong and effective Buy American and domestic sourcing provisions in any jobs-related legislation moving through Congress in the coming weeks and months."