Republicans urge Obama to roll back "Buy American"

Thu Oct 8, 2009 5:27pm EDT
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By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans urged President Barack Obama on Thursday to roll back "Buy American" provisions of this year's economic stimulus package that they said were delaying public works projects and costing American jobs.

"Clearly these provisions are creating problems for our domestic companies and employees that must be addressed," Representative Wally Herger said at a "roundtable" Republicans organized to hear industry concerns about the measure.

Representative Kevin Brady urged the White House to exempt state, county and city governments from the Buy American requirement "so that we can get those dollars working, create these jobs, get these projects in place and move this economy."

The Republicans said they held their event because Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee refused to hold a hearing on the issue.

The Buy American provision included in the $787 billion economic stimulus act requires all public works projects funded by the bill use only U.S.-made goods.

As a result, many local jurisdictions receiving Recovery Act funds are faced with ensuring that their projects comply with the Buy American mandate.

That's not as simple as it sounds because many products contain components from around the world.

The Buy American mandate has "had a devastating impact on municipal procurement and especially in the U.S. water and wastewater market," said Dawn Kristof Champney, president of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association.   Continued...