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Trump signs executive order to boost US steel, aluminum use in infrastructure projects

Pittsburgh — US President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at boosting the amount of US-produced materials, including steel, iron and aluminum, used in infrastructure projects.

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The order, titled "Strengthening Buy American Preferences for Infrastructure Projects," however, does not include enforcement mechanisms or specific purchasing targets.

In an op-ed Thursday published by Fox News, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said the new executive order makes progress in closing potential gaps in coverage when it comes to procurement requirements.

"This new executive order directs the head of each executive department and agency administering a covered program to encourage recipients of new federal financial assistance awards to use, to the greatest extent practicable, iron and aluminum as well as, steel, cement, and other manufactured products produced in the United States in every contract, subcontract, purchase order, or sub-award that is chargeable against such federal financial assistance award," according to Navarro.

The types of infrastructure potentially covered run the gamut from bridges, water infrastructure, and sewer systems to broadband Internet and cybersecurity, Navarro said. By extending Buy American principles to more federal financial assistance programs, this new executive order further reinforces the Trump administration's Buy American preferences, he added.

Trump signed a similar executive order in April 2017 under the title "Buy American, Hire American," which sought "specific recommendations to strengthen implementation of Buy American Laws, including domestic procurement preference policies and programs."

"Strong domestic procurement preferences for federally funded infrastructure projects are vital to the health of the domestic steel industry, and have helped create manufacturing jobs and build American infrastructure," Thomas Gibson, CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute said in a statement. "This latest executive order builds upon President Trump's April 2017 executive order on this topic, which resulted in stronger compliance with our domestic procurement laws, including Buy America requirements, and a marked reduction in waivers to those laws. We applaud President Trump for once again affirming his commitment to the fullest possible implementation of our domestic purchasing laws in signing this executive order today."

The Buy American Act of 1933 governs direct purchases by the federal government while Buy America, which dates back to the Surface Transportation Act of 1978, requires the use of US-made iron and steel, and the domestic production and assembly of other manufactured goods when federal funds are used to support projects like highways, public transportation, aviation and intercity passenger rail. -- Justine Coyne,

-- Edited by Richard Rubin,