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Sen. Sherrod Brown Wants Relief Funds To Go To American Companies

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) addresses members of the press while visiting the Parma UAW picket line during the union's 6-week long strike earlier this year.
Carter Adams

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is urging the Biden administration to stick to American companies for contracts and projects funded under the new $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package

During a press call Wednesday, Brown argued that money from the "American Rescue Plan" should directly benefit U.S. companies and workers. Existing law gives preference to American companies when it comes to government contracting, but foreign companies can potentially get around those provisions, and bid on an equal footing with domestic companies, if their country has a trade agreement with the United States.

The country has to secure a waiver, and whether they get it is up to the president.

“We’re asking him to temporarily suspend trade waivers that could allow foreign companies that do not have American workers or do not pay American taxes to bid on projects funded by the rescue plan," Brown explained. "We need to make sure those supplies are made in America and support jobs in Ohio and around the country.”

In a letter to President Biden, Brown and 12 other senators say 60 countries could qualify for waivers currently.

The senators cite problems getting PPE early on in the pandemic as a reason to encourage more domestic investment. But they contend this “buy American” approach should extend beyond just supplies – arguing that big-ticket spending like infrastructure should go to American companies as well.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.