Today, U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-9), ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, issued a statement on President Trump’s executive order (EO), called “Buy American, Hire American.” This EO calls for a full review of the H-1B visa program and greater enforcement of rules to end visa abuses, as well as a review of government agencies’ use of “Buy American” waivers.
“Today we have yet another broken promise from Donald Trump, who told the American people that he would end the H-1B visa program. For far too long the H-1B visa has been abused by some as a cheap way to replace American workers. With no mandated timeframes and no changes to the law, today’s executive order cannot solve the underlying problem,” Pascrell. “I have introduced bipartisan, comprehensive reform legislation to improve the H-1B visa program to ensure foreign workers are not underpaid and Americans are sought to be hired first. Real reform must happen legislatively. Let me propose a novel idea: the Administration should come to the Congress and work with us on changing the law.”
The congressman noted that he has his own measure, the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2017 (link), bipartisan legislation to overhaul the visa programs to protect workers and crack down on foreign outsourcing companies which deprive qualified Americans of high-skill jobs. Co-sponsors include Dave Brat (R-VA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ).
In addition to the H-1B program, this EO calls for a review of government procurement policies and exceptions made to “Buy American” requirements.
“More concrete action is needed to ensure our procurement policies are not unfairly hurting American workers. Recent studies point to the U.S. losing out in what is supposed to be reciprocal access to procurement markets in countries with which we have trade deals,” said Pascrell. “I hope that this review of Buy American waivers can be instructive in improving how and where tax dollars are spent, and how our trade agreements are negotiated or renegotiated, and not simply more photo ops masquerading as action. In the meantime, we will keep waiting for the ‘big things’ on trade the President keeps promising.”