Business groups oppose 'Buy American' in jobs bill
U.S. business groups urged congressional leaders to avoid a "Buy American" mandate in legislation aimed at creating jobs.
U.S. business groups urged congressional leaders on Wednesday to avoid a "Buy American" mandate in legislation aimed at creating jobs and helping the economy's recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s.
In a replay of a fight earlier this year over the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a coalition of nearly 30 business groups warned that requiring projects funded by the jobs bill to use only American-made goods would undermine, rather than foster, U.S. job growth.
"We are very disappointed to see Congress ginning up more 'Buy American' rules in this jobs bill," Bruce Josten, executive vice president of government affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. "They will be as counterproductive as those in the recovery act."
The House is expected to vote soon on a jobs bill that includes $48 billion for ready-to-go construction projects and $27 billion to cash-strapped states to keep teachers, police and other public-sector employees on the payroll.
It will also consider a separate measure to help small businesses obtain loans and extend jobless benefits.
Congress included a Buy American requirement in the earlier economic stimulus bill.
U.S. steel companies and labor groups pushed for the mandate, saying it was consistent with long-standing practice for big public works programs.
But a large swath of U.S. construction, engineering and other business groups argued against it, saying it would delay projects, boost costs and encourage other countries to adopt stimulus measures that restrict U.S. company access to their government procurement programs.
Cal Cohen, president of the Emergency Committee for American Trade, said the Recovery Act provisions have particularly caused problems at the municipal level, where many procurement agencies are dealing with the Buy American requirement for the first time.
"This slows down the very job creation intended by these investments in our nation's infrastructure," Cohen said.
Reuters Last Mod: 16 Aralık 2009, 21:06