Trumka praises Biden’s ‘Buy American’ executive order; GOP silent
Trumka supports Biden's "Buy American" executive order. | Mark Stahl/AP

WASHINGTON—AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is praising Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden’s executive order to federal agencies to “Buy American” when they purchase billions of dollars in goods and services.

And, in another notable development, right-wing House Republicans, epitomized by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., the union-hating and Biden-hating former chair of the House committee that writes labor laws, shut up about the new president’s decision.

Biden’s order closes loopholes in current Buy American legislation. Those legal commands, which congressional Democrats often insert in money bills, order agencies to buy U.S.-made goods unless they can show a reason why they cannot do so.

Biden killed the corporate excuses to outsource purchases overseas, Trumka said.

“Our tax dollars should be used to create jobs and advance production here at home. For far too long, America’s workers suffered as many corporations wrap themselves in the flag and simultaneously seek out loopholes to qualify for ‘Buy American’ status with foreign-made products,” he explained.

Though Trumka did not say so, Walmart, known for its hatred of unions, its low pay, and no benefits, is a prominent user of that dodge. Walmart also imports many of its consumer goods from low-paying Asian nations. That includes bulk goods it sells to the government.

Republican Oval Office occupant Donald Trump “used the right words but never put in place policies to affect meaningful change,” Trumka pointed out. “This executive order will close loopholes that allow agencies to sidestep ‘Buy American’ requirements and increase the thresholds for domestic content.”

He also declared it will help revive U.S. manufacturing, another key Biden goal, by expanding the market for U.S. factory-made goods.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., noted Biden put teeth in his order by establishing a new position within his Office of Management and Budget to make sure agencies obey.

“Having an individual tasked with overseeing a government-wide approach to ensure greater federal procurement of goods and services made in our country by American workers will provide this important work with the focus and attention it deserves.” Biden’s order will also “make use of the” Commerce Department’s “Manufacturing Extension Partnership to encourage federal agencies to find domestic suppliers for more of the products they source.”

Left unsaid: In his last budget, last year, Trump tried to kill the partnership, leaving only $5 million to close it down. It had been budgeted, in fiscal 2020, which ended last Sept. 30, at $146 million.



Press Associates Union News Service provides national coverage of news affecting workers, including activism, politics, economics, legislation in Congress and actions by the White House, federal agencies and the courts that affect working people. Mark Gruenberg is Editor in chief and owner of Press Associates Union News Service, Washington, D.C.