U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on Wednesday announced that she has introduced three amendments to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that will ensure the Defense Department is complying with Buy American purchasing requirements. These will ensure that federal taxpayer dollars are being used to benefit Michigan workers and businesses and not foreign companies. The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes annual defense spending and is currently being considered by the U.S. Senate.
“It’s common sense that American tax dollars be used to purchase products made in America, not overseas,” said Senator Stabenow. “That’s why I introduced these three amendments to toughen up our Buy American requirements so that American business and workers are put first. Michigan’s defense industry supports over 105,000 jobs, and talented workers and businesses should have priority over foreign companies for federal contracts.”
Currently, the Department of Defense uses a loophole so that Buy American requirements do not apply if a federal agency is procuring a product to be used overseas. Over the past five years, the DoD spent more than $35 billion on over 150,000 products – including motorcycles, radios, and even jet engines – that did not meet Buy American rules. One of Stabenow’s amendments would close this loophole and require the Department of Defense to prioritize products made in the United States.
This amendment is based on Buy American legislation Stabenow introduced earlier this year. The Make It In America Act would close loopholes in the current Buy American law so that the federal government is spending American tax dollars to buy products made in America. During her small business tour across Michigan, Senator Stabenow heard from businesses that expressed concern that our Buy American policies, meant to give priority to American companies when the federal government purchases goods, weren’t working.
The Make It In America Act would make it harder to use waivers to get around Buy America provisions and require agencies to submit an annual report to Congress on the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on foreign made goods. The waiver to exempt goods used outside of the United States accounted for 65 percent of all Buy American waivers in 2016.
Stabenow’s other Buy American amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would require the Government Accountability Office to review Buy American training practices so that contracting personnel can better comply with current law. Her third amendment would require the Department of Defense to form a partnership with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to identify more small and medium sized manufacturers that can provide products that comply with Buy American standards.