Biden to require US-made steel, iron in $1T infrastructure push

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is taking a key step toward ensuring that federal dollars will support U.S. manufacturing — issuing requirements for how projects funded by the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package source their construction material.

New guidance issued Monday requires that the material purchased — whether it’s for a bridge, a highway, a water pipe or broadband internet — be produced in the U.S. However, the rules also set up a process to waive those requirements in case there are not enough domestic producers or the material costs too much, with the goal of issuing fewer waivers over time as U.S. manufacturing capacity increases.

“There are going to be additional opportunities for good jobs in the manufacturing sector,” said Celeste Drake, director of Made in America at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

President Biden hopes to create more jobs, ease supply chain strains and reduce the reliance on China and other nations with interests that diverge from America’s. With inflation at a 40-year high ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, he’s betting that more domestic production will ultimately reduce price pressures to blunt Republican attacks that his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package initially triggered higher prices.

“From Day One, every action I’ve taken to rebuild our economy has been guided by one principle: Made in America,” Biden said last Thursday in Greensboro, North Carolina. “It takes a federal government that doesn’t just give lip service to buying American but actually takes action.”

Biden said that the roughly $700 billion the government devotes annually to procuring goods is supposed to prioritize U.S. suppliers but regulations going back to the 1930s have either been watered down or applied in ways that masked the use of foreign imports.

The new guidelines would enable government officials to know how many dollars go to U.S. workers and factories.