‘NJ Buy American Act’ Gains Senate Approval
Sweeney-Beach Measure Would Promote American Jobs
Trenton – Legislation to promote the purchase of American-made steel and iron products by state entities was approved by the Senate today, giving a boost to efforts to promote the use of domestically manufactured products. The bill, S-853, sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Jim Beach, is intended to boost job creation by ensuring that, whenever possible, tax dollars are spent on goods made in the United States by American workers.
Under the proposed “New Jersey Buy American Act,” all state contracts over $1 million in value for the construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, maintenance, or improvement of any surface highway or bridge must contain a provision that any iron or steel products are made in whole or substantial part in the United States.
“Requiring the purchase of American-made goods for public contracts is a matter of good economic sense,” said Senator Sweeney, (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “I believe that we have an obligation to use public funds in ways that help our workers and businesses. This is part of a national movement in support of American jobs that will help revitalize infrastructure across the state and bolster the strength of our manufacturing industries.”
“When we are using public funds to serve public needs, we have a responsibility to use those resources in ways that support domestic needs, including American jobs, New Jersey’s economy and key industries,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden). “Reinvesting tax dollars into the local and national economy promotes growth, expands the tax base, and – by employing more Americans – ultimately reduces the burden on social safety net programs.”
The legislation mirrors the Buy American law in New York State, which was set to sunset this year but was made permanent when they passed their budget in April. The New Jersey legislation would complement the New York law and ensure that bi-state agencies, such as the Port Authority of NY and NJ, buy American products for all their projects.
“When we buy American, we protect American jobs and invest in the American economy, from big manufacturers to mom-and-pop stores where workers shop,” said Charles Wowkanech, President of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. “Our tax dollars should be kept here at home, not sent overseas.
“We are grateful to Senate President Sweeney for introducing this bill to ensure a better future for New Jersey workers and to the Senate for passing it,” Wowkanech said. “American manufacturing is the best in the world and the best investment for the American taxpayer. Sending taxpayer money to another country for products we make right here at home is an insult to hard-working men and women everywhere.”
Under the bill, exemptions would be made for emergency needs, to avoid higher costs, or to obtain specialized steel products, among other limited exemptions.
The legislation would not conflict with international trade agreements. International law permits members of the World Trade Organization to favor their respective domestic suppliers of goods and services in government procurements.
The Senate vote was 39-0.