The time is now for Donald Trump to take a stand in support of American workers by calling on Republican leadership in Congress to support strong Buy America requirements in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), also known as the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act (WIIN).
Just one week ago in Cincinnati, President-elect Trump said his infrastructure plan would follow two simple rules: “Buy American and hire American.”
I support that position, but unfortunately the Republican establishment in Washington didn’t hear him. They have removed my Buy America standard from water infrastructure legislation and Trump Tower has since remained silent.
I believe that the iron and steel used in water infrastructure projects should be made in America and that taxpayer dollars should go to support American jobs and manufacturers, not be spent on Chinese or Russian iron and steel. My provision to require this was included in a version of the water infrastructure legislation that passed the Senate 95-3. However, Speaker Ryan and House Republicans removed this Buy America reform from the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act and there hasn’t been a peep, or tweet, from President-elect Trump.
“They have removed my Buy America standard from water infrastructure legislation and Trump Tower has since remained silent.”
It is clear to me, and it should be clear to President-elect Trump as well, that Congressional Republicans are allowing corporate lobbyists working on behalf of companies who import steel from Russia and China to write the rules in Washington.
Importers of cheap foreign steel from China and Russia have sought to eliminate or loosen these rules for their own benefit. According to media reports, including the Wall Street Journal, the importers and their foreign suppliers have hired the Washington, D.C. lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs to lobby the Republican leadership in the House against my Buy America standard, which would provide a long term and solid commitment to American workers. The firm’s strategy relies on the revolving door—the firm employs former House Speaker John Boehner and several former top Republican aides—to gain access and influence over Congress. These reports suggest that corporate lobbyists are using their influence over Congress to support clients that do business with Russian and Chinese steel companies at the expense of American workers.
“I am calling on President-elect Trump to turn his words into action.”
That is why I am calling on President-elect Trump to turn his words into action and join me in demanding that Republican leaders in Congress restore our strong Buy America standard in the final water infrastructure bill.
Together, with Senators Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey, we introduced an amendment to restore this reform and we have demanded a vote on it. American manufacturers and steel workers, like the men and women at Neenah Foundry in Wisconsin who help build our nation’s water infrastructure, support our amendment and they deserve a vote and a solid commitment from us on a strong Buy America standard. We welcome President-elect Trump’s support.
President-elect Trump has said that we need to “drain the swamp” and that he will take on the lobbyists and special interests who are writing the rules and rigging the game in Washington against American workers. If he is serious about “draining the swamp” and supporting American workers, it is time for him to end his silence and speak out publicly in support of restoring Buy America to the water infrastructure bill before Congress.
It is time for a vote on a Buy America standard that respects and rewards American manufacturers and workers.