‘I mean it’: Biden beefs up Buy American rules for projects

Materials subject to the standards include plastic and polymer-based products, glass, lumber, and drywall (Photograph courtesy of The White House/Public domain)
US President Joe Biden this week pledged to toughen “Buy American” rules to require all federally-funded projects to use materials and products made in the US.

“I mean it. Lumber, glass, drywall, fibre-optic cable,” he said in his State of the Union address on 7 February.

“And on my watch, American roads, bridges, and American highways are going to be made with American products as well,” he added.

Calling it “totally consistent with international trade rules”, the president said: “Buy American has been the law since 1933. But for too long, past administrations — Democrat and Republican — have fought to get around it. Not anymore.”

To achieve that, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will propose new standards to determine if materials are made in the US.

Materials subject to the standards include plastic and polymer-based products, glass (including optic glass), lumber, and drywall.

Biden claimed his economic agenda had “ignited a new manufacturing boom”, with 12 million new jobs created in the first two years of his term.

Not everyone praised the move.

Responding to the president’s address, Doug Carlson, chief executive of the National Utility Contractors Association, issued a statement saying his organisation’s members “require a very complex mix of materials, some of which are not domestically manufactured”.

“Each project should be covered by a manufacturing standard that fits available project resources and domestic availability – and not encumbered by the Biden Administration’s expansion of its own powers.”

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