Remarks by President Biden at Signing of Executive Order on Strengthening
South Court Auditorium
3:42 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, folks. I’m going to make some brief remarks, sign an executive order, and then take your questions, if that’s okay with you all.
Last week, we immediately got to work to contain the pandemic and deliver economic relief to millions of Americans who need it the most. And today we’re getting to work to rebuild the backbone of America: manufacturing, unions, and the middle class.
It’s based on a simple premise: that we’ll reward work, not wealth, in this country. And the key plank of ensuring the future will be “Made in America.” I’ve long said that I don’t accept the defeatist view that the forces of automation and globalization can’t keep — can keep union jobs from growing here in America. We can create more of them, not fewer of them.
I don’t buy for one second the — that the vitality of the American manufacturing is a thing of the past. American manufacturing was the arsenal of democracy in World War Two, and it must be part of the engine of American prosperity now. That means we are going to use taxpayers’ money to rebuild America. We’ll buy American products and support American jobs, union jobs.
For example, the federal government every year spends approximately $600 billion in government procurement to keep the country going safe and secure. And there’s a law that’s been on the books for almost a century now: to make sure that that money was spent — taxpayers’ dollars for procurement is spent to support American jobs and American businesses.
But the previous administration didn’t take it seriously enough. Federal agencies waived the Buy American requirement without much pushback at all. Big corporations and special interests have long fought for loopholes to redirect American taxpayers’ dollars to foreign companies where the products are being made. The result: tens of billions of American taxpayers’ dollars supporting foreign jobs and foreign industries.
In 1918 — excuse me, in 2018 alone, the Department spent $3 billion — the Defense Department — on foreign construction contracts, leaving American steel and iron out in the cold. It spent nearly $300 million in foreign engines and on vehicles instead of buying American vehicles and engines from American companies, putting Americans to work.
Under the previous administration, the federal government contract awarded directly to foreign companies went up 30 percent. That is going to change on our watch.
Today I’m taking the first steps in my larger Build Back Better Recovery Plan that invests in American workers, unions, and businesses up and down the supply chain. And I know that previous presidents entered office by promising to buy America and instituting the Buy American policy, but here’s why this is different and not the same:
I’ll be signing an executive order in just a moment, tightening…