President Trump expressed support Tuesday for a Democratic bill that would increase federal requirements to use American-made products in construction projects.
When Trump was visiting Wisconsin on Tuesday to sign his so-called "Buy American, Hire American" executive order, the president told TMJ4 in Milwaukee that he supports a similar effort by Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy BaldwinLawmakers talk climate for Earth Day, Science March Trump says he supports Dem ‘Buy America’ bill Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups MORE (D-Wis.)
“I do. I support the concept of everything from the U.S.,” Trump said. “I’m very much into that and I agree with her 100 percent.”
“If the president is serious about Buy America, the most important thing he can do is announce his support for Tammy Baldwin's bill today. That would be real," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerPriebus: I believe the government will stay open So what if banks push fancy cards? Give consumers the steak they want Ted Cruz: Warren could beat Trump in 2020 MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters during a conference call on Tuesday.
The same language was included in a waterways bill last year, but was stripped from the final version by House Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanFive fights for Trump’s first year Sunday shows preview: Trump stares down 100-day mark Ryan: Focus is on keeping government open, not healthcare MORE (R-Wis.). Critics of the requirement argue it would unfairly block some companies from receiving federal money.
“Now that President Trump has expressed his support for my Buy America reform, I’m hopeful he will join me in pushing Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan on legislative action," Baldwin said in a statement.
Proponents of Buy America requirements believe they could have a powerful ally in Trump, who has long promised to follow “two simple rules” while in office: hire American employees and buy American products.
But supporters complained that Trump's executive order didn't go far enough, calling on him to support their efforts on the issue in Congress as well.
"That’s why I’ve asked President Trump to work with me on my legislation to use American steel and iron and American labor to build all taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects," said Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownFive things to know about Trump's steel order Trump administration investigating effect of steel imports on US Mexico: Recent deportations 'a violation' of US immigration rules MORE (D-Ohio) in a statement.
Trump's executive order will direct federal agencies to prioritize American firms when rewarding federal contracts.
Agencies will be told to conduct assessments to root out “unfair trade practices used to steal government contracts from domestic workers and manufacturers” in the $4 billion global procurement market.
The agencies are being told to re-examine how they grant waivers to award federal contractors to low-bidding foreign manufacturers.
And they’ll review agreements whereby the U.S. grants foreign suppliers contracts in exchange for reciprocal access to federal contracts abroad. An administration official said those agreements have failed to net the U.S. its fair share in the global procurements market.
“There will be an immediate culture change across these agencies,” a senior administration official said. “Buying American is the Trump administration’s highest priority for taxpayer dollars. Agencies will have their marching orders and will be held accountable for failure.”
—Jonathan Easley contributed to this report