WASHINGTON – A key US lawmaker has said he plans to propose stricter federal requirements for “buying American” through the House of Representatives’ annual defense bill, in a renewed attempt to codify President Joe Biden’s executive order into law.
A spokesman for Donald Norcross, DN.J., told Defense News on Tuesday that he was in talks with Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee to draft a compromise amendment when the committee marked its version of the resolution Wednesday. The amendment will only apply to major defense programs and could recognize allies in some way, in an attempt to reassure them.
“We are working actively with our allies and partners, as well as those in the Defense Committee, to try to win not only for our country, but also for our allies and partners,” said Norcross, a former Labor Party leader. of the House Tactical Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, said in an interview.
This is the latest in negotiations between Norcross and allied countries on its efforts to increase domestic jobs and production by tightening “buying American” requirements in federal treaties, which apply to about a third of the $ 600 billion in goods and services in the US government buys every year.
Last year, Norcross created a legislative language that would introduce a phased internal content requirement of 75% in federal treaties by 2029, up from 55%. The measure was dropped in negotiations to agree on the versions of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Defense Bill.
He argues that COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions are the reason for the return of production and services that have been relocated to the United States, especially when national security is at stake.
A group of defense attachés, whose 25 member states have special reciprocal trade agreements with the United States, called on House lawmakers to oppose Norcross’s proposal, invisibly, saying it would raise prices already affected by inflation.
The group’s chairman, Peter-Hank Schroor, said such a proposal could limit members’ inputs and increase the cost of the defense program. The group includes Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom
“If you open your defense-industrial base to the bases of other countries, you can find certain products that are cheaper, but also of higher quality. “And if you take advantage of the benefits it offers, we believe the total cost of military equipment will be lower than it is now,” he told Defense News on Tuesday. Schroor is the Dutch attaché for defense cooperation in Washington.
Norcross insisted that countries with reciprocal trade defense agreements have been released and will remain so. Group members remain skeptical.
Schur said these exceptions should be codified in law, as the Biden administration’s ongoing review of the Buy American rules exceptions raises fears that the White House will remove them.
“We still don’t know for sure whether the Memoranda of Understanding on Reciprocal Public Procurement are actually being complied with by the administration,” Shur said. “It’s safe until someone decides we’re not free anymore. Stronger legislative protection would be very useful in our case. “
A June 17 letter from Schroor to HASC President Adam Smith, D-Wash., And a member of the rankings, Mike Rodgers, R-Ala., Cited “the need for greater industrial cooperation” in light of the disruptions. of the supply chain of COVID-19 19, the military modernization of China and the invasion of Russia in Ukraine.
Efforts between the United States and its allies to increase arms production for Ukraine have shed light on the borders of the US defense-industrial base. Schroor said on Tuesday that the answer was to create a united front and work together to boost production.
“You can see that many western countries have exhausted their own supplies and our supplies need to be replenished,” he said. “But in a serious situation that is happening in Europe, it takes a lot of resources. We need a contingency plan, and we think that is to strengthen our joint efforts in the defense industry. “
Joe Gould is a senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, defense policy and the defense industry.