Buy American, Hire American Update: Pipelines

Buy American, Hire American Update: Pipelines

January 25, 2017  | Jeff Davis

January 25, 2017

(Ed. Note: See last week’s article for all the background you need on Buy America, Hire American rules in infrastructure

President Trump made news again this week on the “Buy American, Hire American” front. He signed a memo asking TransCanada to re-submit its application to build the Keystone XL pipeline and ordering the Secretaries of State, the Army, and the Interior to “facilitate its expeditious review,” and he signed another memo doing the same thing for the Dakota Access pipeline.

But what’s really interesting is this other memo he signed at the same time, directing the Secretary of Commerce to “develop a plan under which all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired, or expanded pipelines, inside the borders of the United States, including portions of pipelines, use materials and equipment produced in the United States, to the maximum extent possible and to the extent permitted by law.” The memo adds definitions of what kinds of iron and steel are considered U.S.-made.

By signing them all at the same time, the President sends the clear signal that the pipeline construction applications are more likely to be approved if they promise to use a lot of U.S.-made steel products. One can expect more actions like this: taking the Buy America requirements currently applicable to federal grant programs and trying to attach them to projects built with non-federal money but in which there is a federal role.

This part of Trump’s message tests well with voters. A new poll from Morning Consult asked 1,992 registered voters their opinion of the following lines from Trump’s inaugural address: “From this moment on, it’s going to be America First. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.”

66 percent of all voters surveyed had a positive opinion of the entire message. And when polled separately on just whether the federal government should be required to “Buy American and Hire American,” approval was at 61%. Poll cross tabs are shown below for party ID, race and 2016 presidential vote.

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