House Spending Bill Takes a Small Step Toward Reforming ‘Buy America’ Policy

COMMENTARY Budget and Spending

House Spending Bill Takes a Small Step Toward Reforming ‘Buy America’ Policy

Jul 18th, 2017 1 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Tori K. Whiting

Research Associate

Tori helps to write, edit, and promote Heritage’s premier annual publication, the Index of Economic Freedom, as a research associate.
The House interior appropriations bill would change the definition of “produced in the United States” to the standard found in the Buy American Act of 1933. iStock

The House Appropriations Committee is set to mark up its interior appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018. This mark-up could lead to a slight revision of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Buy America” provision.

While the bill should just repeal Buy America regulations for the EPA altogether, it does take a small step in the right direction in decreasing the regulatory burden for contractors.

Under current law, EPA funding to states through its Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and WIFIA program is subject to stringent regulations that prevent products that are not “produced in the United States” from being used in state and local water infrastructure projects.

The current EPA interpretation requires all iron and steel products to be “melted” in the U.S. to be considered produced in the United States.

This legislation would change the definition of “produced in the United States” to the standard found in the Buy American Act of 1933.

Under that bill, iron and steel products are considered produced in the U.S. if they are manufactured in the U.S.

The regulatory landscape that American businesses must navigate raises their costs, hurts their profits, holds back employment of American citizens, and reduces the value that taxpayers receive for the dollars invested by the government in infrastructure and other projects.

Read the full report: “Buy American” Laws: A Costly Policy Mistake That Hurts Americans

Additionally, the different standards for domestic content requirements make these regulations even more cumbersome and expensive.

While not ideal, this House provision would at least decrease the burden for producers by moving to a more consistent set of rules, giving them more flexibility to source products based on quality and price.

Moving forward, Congress and the administration should work together to eliminate all existing domestic content requirements. Doing so would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs across the country and contribute billions of dollars to U.S. gross domestic product.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal