Tonight’s State of the Union Address was Joe Biden’s first. He praised the Ukrainian people for their “iron will”. He also promised no Ukrainian iron—one of the country’s primary exports—will end up in all the infrastructure he’s hoping to build.
Tonight, the President announced that this year will see over 65,000 miles worth of highways and more than 1,500 bridges being repaired. We are going to buy American when we rebuild America with taxpayer dollars. Support American Jobs by buying American goods.
In November 2021, Biden signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law. It expanded on requirements that new roads, bridges and buses that would be funded by it were made in America using American-sourced materials. These same Buy American provisions guarantee that we will not get as much infrastructure as possible for our money.
This is because products and materials made in the country are often more expensive than those from abroad. You wouldn’t need to ask project sponsors for them.
A 2019 Congressional Research Report shows that buying steel from America for use in infrastructure projects can cost twice as much than importing it directly from China. This requirement cost American roadbuilders $2 billion more between 2009 and 2011, when Vice President Biden managed the expenditure of stimulus money on infrastructure projects.
American-made bus procurement means we have to pay twice as much for rolling stock in Japan and Korea than it costs us. Because we buy domestically, our train cars are 34% more expensive.
These requirements are often so burdensome that federal departments will grant exemptions for Buy American rules when the project is economically unfeasible. Biden will make sure that fewer projects are eligible for these cost-saving exemptions.
A January 2021 executive order signed by him creates the Made in America Office in Office of Management and Budget, which is charged with enforcement of Buy American laws.
Biden is more like his predecessor in his protectionist approach to infrastructure. Donald Trump was quick to issue executive orders titled “Buy American” and “Hire American”. Trump also tried to pass a $1 trillion bill for infrastructure through Congress.
Biden’s bill for infrastructure succeeded where Trump failed. Both men shared a Buy America spirit, which shows that they were less concerned about how much money they can spend than what they get from infrastructure dollars.