Donald Trump will sign the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order during a trip to the Snap-on tool headquarters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday. Although the specific text of the order is not available, it is expected to increase enforcement of existing laws, adjust existing trade agreements, and overhaul guest-worker programs — including the H-1B visa program.
During an April 17 press conference, a senior White House administration official discussed the background of the Buy American, Hire American executive order and what it is expected to achieve.
According to the official, “Buy American refers to a set of procurement laws about how goods and manufactured products are obtained and how they’re used in federal projects or federally funded projects… Hire American generally refers to the body of law and policy concerning how our immigration, visa and guest worker programs are operated to ensure proper protections for American workers.”
— Joseph Jett (@josephjett) April 18, 2017
The original “Buy American” act was signed into law by then-President Herbert Hoover on Match 3, 1933. As reported by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Sevice, the law required companies to use articles, materials, and supplies produced in the United States for United States federal government projects.
Although the law generally applies to all United States federal government projects, waivers are available under certain conditions. For example, waivers may be requested if the use of American products would increase the total cost of a project by at least 25 percent or if the required quantity of materials is not available from American providers.
Other similar acts and provisions, including Buy America and the Berry Amendment, are also meant to encourage the use of American products for projects that are funded by the federal government.
Currently, the United States does not have a specific “Hire American” act. However, there are laws and rules associated with guest worker programs meant to protect American workers. Essentially, the laws and rules are meant to prevent guest workers from replacing American workers who are qualified and willing to perform a job.
America’s existing Buy American and Hire American laws and rules have been a point of heated controversy for decades.
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to reassess and revise the current laws to close loopholes and prevent abuses. On Tuesday, he pledged to sign an executive order to move forward with his Buy American, Hire American concept.
According to the senior White House administration official, the “Buy American” portion of the executive order will require government agencies and departments to assess their compliance, enforcement, and monitoring of the existing Buy American laws. The agencies and departments will also be directed to identify any loopholes, which may impede implementation of the existing laws.
The executive order will also limit, and ultimately reduce, the number of exceptions and waivers related to the current Buy American laws. Per the executive order, agency heads will be responsible for approving or denying the waivers — in an attempt “to ensure greater accountability.”
The senior White House administration official said the executive order will also address free trade agreements — which Donald Trump has openly criticized on numerous occasions. In an attempt to assess whether the trade agreements are in the best interest of the United States, the Secretary of Commerce and the United States Trade commission will work together “to determine whether these agreements do indeed meet President Trump’s standard of being both fair and reciprocal.”
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 18, 2017
The executive order is also expected to loosen standards on steel produced in the United States, in an attempt to reduce costs associated with producing and purchasing American steel.
The “Hire American” portion of Donald Trump’s executive order includes the enforcement and revision of laws related to guest workers. In addition to encouraging companies to hire American workers, the order will direct agencies to increase oversight and prevent abuse of the current guest worker programs.
Donald Trump’s Buy American, Hire American executive order is designed to increase the use of American products and workers while reducing the money spent on foreign products and guest workers. Although his supporters are applauding the proposed changes, the order is likely to remain controversial.
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