Nov 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

White House to publicize requests to break "buy American" rule

President Biden is seen standing on the door sill of an electric Hummer while visiting at GM assembly plant in Michigan.

President Biden takes GMC Hummer EV on a test drive Wednesday as he visits a General Motors assembly plant in Detroit. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The White House is making public all agency-waiver requests to the administration's "Buy American" rule, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The federal government is the single largest purchaser of consumer goods in the world, spending nearly $600 billion annually on procurement. The new process allows the public to scrutinize the president's commitment to foster sales of U.S.-made products.

  • It also will keep the administration accountable when agencies seek to purchase materials not domestically available.

How it works: Agencies have historically had the ability to waive requirements that non-mission-critical products be domestically made, when that product was not available at a reasonable cost or if it was not "in the public interest."

  • The waivers the Biden administration will make public are for products not available in the United States, an administration official told Axios.
  • The updates will be provided in real time on MadeinAmerica.gov, and will follow the process from when a proposed waiver is submitted to when the office issues the decision.
  • The decision also will be made public.

What they're saying: "With today’s announcement, we’re taking another step forward to deliver on President Biden’s commitment to use that power to help America’s businesses compete in strategic industries and help ensure America’s workers thrive," Celeste Drake said in a statement.

  • She's director of the Made in America Office within the Office of Management and Budget.

Flashback: President Biden ran on a promise of supporting American manufacturing through federal procurement, as well as strengthening the American industrial base.

  • His administration established the Made in America office, and shortly after issued guidance requiring agencies to better justify and reduce waivers to Made in America laws.
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