Steel industry urges House panel to adopt 'Buy America' rules

Steel industry urges House panel to adopt 'Buy America' rules
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The manufacturing and steel industry is sounding the alarm over a provision in an Interior Department spending bill that would weaken so-called Buy America rules.

In a letter to the House Appropriations Committee on Monday, several organizations urged the panel to adopt an amendment to strip language in the underlying measure that allows steel that is melted and poured abroad to be used in domestic water infrastructure projects.

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The letter comes as President Trump, who has long promised that his administration would buy American products and hire American employees, is launching a weeklong “Made in America” initiative aimed at promoting American manufacturing.

“The underlying bill would bypass tens of thousands of American workers in the iron ore mines of Minnesota, Michigan and Alabama, the coal mines of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Wyoming and West Virginia, and steel mills from coast to coast,” the letter says. “Each direct steel job supports seven others throughout our economy.”

Industry groups that signed onto the letter include the Alliance for American Manufacturing, the American Line Pipe Producers Association, United Steelworkers and the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

Under current law, certain water infrastructure projects funded with U.S. tax dollars are required to use American-made iron and steel.

But some Republicans, particularly in the House, have taken aim at those rules, arguing that they create and an unfair system of winner and losers. Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanGOP divided over care for transgender troops Want bipartisan health reform? Make the debate honest again Ex-CBO directors defend against GOP attacks on ObamaCare analysis MORE (R-Wis.) led a successful effort to strip Buy America requirements from a water infrastructure measure last year.

The fiscal 2018 House appropriations bill that funds the Interior Department includes new language that would allow steel that is initially poured and melted abroad, but finished and rolled in the U.S., to be used in federally funded water projects.

It also would allow end-use products to be assembled in the U.S. using components made entirely of foreign iron and steel.

The draft legislation was unveiled last week, but has yet to be marked up by committee.

“Buy America is and should continue to be a preference for steel that is produced at every stage of the manufacturing process in the United States — not a preference for foreign-produced steel that is further rolled and/or finished here,” the letter says. “This distinction has enormous implications for capital investment and jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector.”

Congressional champions of Buy America have also seized on Trump’s “Made in America” week to advocate for legislation requiring U.S. steel and iron.

Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy BaldwinSteel industry urges House panel to adopt 'Buy America' rules Major progressive group endorses Martha McSally challenger Vulnerable senators raise big money ahead of 2018 MORE (D-Wis.), who Trump previously said he agreed with on the issue, called on Trump to press Republican leadership to consider her bill to require that 100 percent American-made iron and steel is used in any water infrastructure projects funded by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF).

“Given your support of [the bill], I urge you to call on Senate Republican leaders to take up my Buy America legislation during ‘Made in America’ week,” Baldwin wrote in a letter to the White House.

“Together, we can support American manufacturing and ensure that critical drinking water projects help create American jobs and use high quality American iron and steel.”