“Buy American and hire American.”
At a rally in Cincinnati this month, President-elect Trump used those words as he pledged to use American products and workers to carry out his infrastructure plan. Congress has encouraged this bipartisan idea for many years because it just makes sense. If we’re investing in our country’s infrastructure, why wouldn’t we also invest in our country’s workers and businesses? Buy America rules ensure that there’s work at plants in Coshocton, Cleveland, Marion and across our state – supporting Ohio jobs. But last week, Washington leadership abandoned that idea and turned its back on the many Ohioans who work in the iron and steel industry.
A Buy America provision for a major water infrastructure bill passed the Senate back in September with broad bipartisan support, but some members of Congress weren’t ready to stand up for American workers. They moved to strip Buy America rules out of the final bill passed by Congress on Friday, choosing China and Russia over Ohio.
Senator Portman and I led a group of our colleagues in a letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan and other leaders in the House and Senate demanding they restore Buy America. Instead, Speaker Ryan and other negotiators chose to send American tax dollars overseas.
I countered by introducing an amendment with my Senate colleagues to restore the provision when the revised bill came before the Senate but the measure wasn’t included.
This water infrastructure bill was the first major test of whether the Washington establishment would live up to President-elect Trump’s promises to put American products and American workers first in his infrastructure package. They failed – and now American iron and steel workers will pay the price.
I won’t give up on the fight to support American companies. Buy America should be standard in every infrastructure bill. As Congress looks to invest in future projects, I will continue to work with my colleagues – Republicans and Democrats – to put pressure on Republican leadership to prioritize American workers and I hope President-elect Trump will join me.
We cannot allow foreign companies to continue to undercut our steel industry and without Buy America, we are allowing this business to go elsewhere at the expense of tax payers.
It’s simple: American tax dollars should go toward American-made goods that supports American jobs. Period.
Sherrod Brown is a Democratic United States Senator from Ohio.