A Better Deal: Taxpayer Dollars Should be Used to Support & Create American Jobs, Not Ship Them Overseas

By Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Senator Bob Casey, and Senator Tammy Baldwin

When the Senate meets this week, we will consider the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA is a bipartisan piece of legislation, bringing together lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to set budget levels and shape policy for our national security and defense. But this year, it is also a major opportunity for the American worker to get a Better Deal on trade and jobs.

When considering the NDAA, Democrats will offer major amendments to protect and strengthen our Buy American policies in taxpayer-funded defense contracts and limit federal defense contractors from outsourcing good-paying American jobs. Taxpayer dollars spent on American defense should put American workers to work and grow our local economies.

In his campaign, President Trump promised he would crack down on companies that outsource jobs and ensure products financed with taxpayers dollars were Made in America. Senate Democrats have held these positions for years and will again offer real legislative proposals to achieve them on the NDAA. We welcome the support of President Trump and Senate Republicans to help us pass our amendments and to get our economy growing again.

BUY AMERICAN

Buy American policies have been diminished by special interests waivers and loopholes that allow foreign firms access to large sums of taxpayer dollars. One such loophole, called the “overseas exemption,” gives the Department of Defense (DOD) the ability to waive Buy American rules simply because the item being purchased is intended for use overseas — this made up 65% of the exemptions DOD issued in the last year. While the President has acted to re-examine the use of our Buy American waivers, this examination will not fundamentally change our Buy American policies.

The Better Deal proposals would protect and strengthen existing Buy American rules. Specifically, we propose: 1) eliminating the current NDAA provisions that would weaken buy American laws by eliminating Buy American provisions for a number of products, 2) rolling back the “overseas exemption” to the Buy American Act and 3) increasing transparency by mandating up-to-date reporting on the use of Buy American waivers for specific products.

NO TAXPAYER DOLLARS FOR OUTSOURCING

Some American companies that receive defense contracts are the same companies that have a record of outsourcing American jobs. This is unacceptable. We propose creating a public list of defense contractors with a record of outsourcing more than 50 jobs and allowing federal agencies the discretion to apply a negative preference to any contracts that companies on this list apply for. We also propose ending the current tax deduction companies receive for outsourcing expenses and providing a tax credit of up to 20% for the expenses companies make to bring jobs back to the U.S. These proposals would result in more taxpayer dollars being spent on American jobs.

The American people deserve a Better Deal on trade and jobs. There is no better opportunity for us to make real, bipartisan accomplishments than ensuring that the NDAA protects and supports not just the country, but our jobs and economy as well. We sincerely hope that our Republican colleagues will join Senate Democrats in that effort.