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New Trump Executive Order Encourages Buy American Preferences in Infrastructure Projects

President Donald Trump recently signed Executive Order No. 13858, entitled Strengthening Buy-American Preferences for Infrastructure Projects. It is intended to encourage companies that receive federal financial assistance for infrastructure projects to use certain products manufactured in the United States. This Order expands the types of projects previously covered to now include many energy projects, and greatly increases the types of American products that contractors are encouraged to incorporate.

The Order, signed on January 31, 2019, directs the heads of departments administering “covered programs” to encourage recipients of new federal awards to use iron, aluminum, steel, cement, and other products produced in the United States. “Covered programs” are those involving construction, improvement and maintenance of infrastructure projects.

Department heads must submit a report to the Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy, that (i) provides an explanation of the plan that they’ve developed to encourage the use of products manufactured in the United States, and (ii) identifies any techniques that could be used to maximize the use of products manufactured in the United States.

The executive order directs agency and department heads to encourage awardees to use a broader range of U.S.-manufactured products. Buy American laws already apply to surface transportation and drinking water infrastructure projects. However, in addition, the executive order defines infrastructure projects to include those involving aviation; ports; water resources projects; energy production, generation, and storage; electricity transmission; gas, oil, and propane storage and transmission; electric, oil, natural gas, and propane distribution systems; broadband internet; pipelines; stormwater and sewer infrastructure; and cybersecurity.

The executive order also broadens the types of U.S.-manufactured goods that awardees will be encouraged to use to include aluminum; plastics; pvc pipe; concrete; glass and optical fiber; and lumber. Previously, Buy American regulations often have been limited to iron and steel products and materials.

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