|Sponsor||Rep. Kaptur, Marcy|
|Date||September 15, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)|
|Staff Contact||Andy Koenig|
H.R. 2039 is expected to be considered on the House floor on Wednesday, September 15, 2010, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) on April 22, 2009, and referred to the Committee on House Administration, which took no official action.
H.R. 2039 would clarify that requirements of the Buy American Act apply to materials and supplies purchased by the legislative branch. Specifically, the bill would require that supplies and materials purchased for public use by Congress to be produced in the U.S. However, under current law, the “buy American” requirement may be waived if the head of an office of the legislative branch determines that the purchase is inconsistent with the public interest or the cost is unreasonable.
In addition, H.R. 2039 would impose a different and more stringent buy American standard on materials which bear the seal of the United States House of Representatives, the seal of the United States Senate, or the seal of the United States Congress and are acquired for use of an office in Congress. Under the bill, all products bearing such a seal would be required to be produced in the U.S. and the head of an office in the legislative branch could not waive the buy American provision by determining that the purchase or manufacture was unreasonably expensive. Thus, any material used by an office of the legislative branch and bearing a seal of Congress would be required to be produced in the U.S. without regard to its cost or the market value of the product.
The Buy American Act (PL 72-428) was signed into law in 1933 to require the government to purchase U.S.-produced materials and products. Pursuant to current law, the government must purchase items that are made in America unless “the head of the department or independent establishment concerned shall determine it to be inconsistent with the public interest, or the cost to be unreasonable.” Since the passage of the Buy American Act, there have been numerous other provisions passed into law with requirements and preferences for the government to purchase products made in the U.S. The Berry amendment, enacted in 1941, for instance, requires the Department of Defense to give preference to procuring goods that are produced, grown or manufactured in the U.S., including textiles. Likewise, the Democrats’ $1.2 billion “stimulus” law requires the purchase of American goods (steel, iron, etc.) for stimulus funded government construction contracts.
Generally, buy American provisions include waivers to ensure that taxpayer funds are not used to make purchases at prices exorbitantly higher than present market value. However, H.R. 2039 would prohibit heads of legislative offices from determining that purchase costs are too high in the case of products which bear various Congressional seals. Some Members may be concerned that this provision may raise the cost of certain products purchased for use by Congress, and thus, increase government spending.
A CBO score for H.R. 2039 was not available as of press time.