September 24, 2022

Washington Wire: Biden Issues Buy America Executive Order


Biden Issues Buy America Executive Order  

On January 25, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order directing the federal government to increase purchases of manufactured goods Made in America. This is an important development to promote manufacturing and applies to the “whole of government”, meaning the government will emphasize purchasing U.S. made goods and limiting waivers, such as those granted for certain infrastructure projects in the past. The Made in America terminology is meant to encompass government purchasing and is different than Made in USA product labeling and country of origin laws.
Under the new Executive Order, “Made in America Laws” means all statutes, regulations, rules, and Executive Orders relating to Federal financial assistance awards or Federal procurement. This includes projects that refer to “Buy America” or “Buy American,” and that require or provide a preference for, the purchase of goods, products, or materials produced in the United States, including iron, steel, and manufactured goods offered in the United States. Buy America is a program focused on highway and infrastructure spending while Buy American can apply across all government purchasing, providing preferences to U.S. goods.
The President’s Executive Order directs federal agencies to partner with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEPs), to conduct supplier scouting in order to identify American companies, including small- and medium-sized businesses, that are able to produce goods, products, and materials in the U.S. that meet Federal procurement needs. Crucially, as One Voice manufacturers report the highest steel prices in more than a decade, the Executive Order increases the price preferences for domestic end products, allowing for higher domestic costs compared with overseas competitors.
Manufacturers do need further clarity, which is expected in the coming weeks, as to the definitions of domestic content when qualifying under Made in America. Of concern is if manufacturers who must use imported steel or aluminum due to the lack of sufficient and reasonably available commercial quantities and of satisfactory quality are precluded from qualifying under the new program. One Voice will work with the Biden Administration on this important initiative to increase purchasing of American manufactured products.



Second Draw PPP Loans Now Open
The Paycheck Protection Program is now accepting applications from certain eligible borrowers that previously received a PPP loan for a Second Draw PPP loan. Those eligible include businesses with 300 or fewer employees and have a gross receipts reduction of 25% in comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020. To apply, contact your lender. Click here for additional information from the Small Business Administration including the Borrower Application Form. You may also view or download the most recent January 15 One Voice COVID-19 Webinar here:



Auto Duties Report to Remain Confidential
The U.S. Government will continue to keep secret the National Security Section 232 autos and auto parts report following a decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on January 14, 2021. Congress included language in a 2020 appropriations bill explicitly directing Commerce to release the report no later than January 19, 2020. However, the previous administration refused to release the report arguing that the report falls within the scope of executive privilege.
The court agreed with the previous administration’s argument, saying the President has a “strong short-term interest in keeping the Report confidential while the U.S. Trade Representative continues negotiations and the President continues to consider other options to deal with the national security threat.” At the time, the administration had been negotiating with Japan and the European Union, among others, on trade deals to address the issue.



Annual Adjustment to OSHA Civil Penalties Have Taken Effect
The Occupational Safety Administration (OSHA) have adjusted their civil penalties for workplace safety and health violations for 2021. The maximum penalties for “serious and other-than-serious” violations have increased from $13,494 per violation to $13,653 per violation and the penalty for “willful or repeated” violations have increased from $134,937 to $136,532 per violation. The increase applies to any penalties assessed after January 15, 2021.
OSHA, under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act, is required to make annual adjustments for inflation no later than January 15 of each year.



One Voice Files Comments on Work-Based Learning
One Voice filed official comments with the Department of Education on expanding work-based learning (WBL) opportunities for youth. The request for information was seeking responses to key questions on successful approaches for expanding WBL for youth as the Federal Government continues to implement the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V).
In the comments, One Voice stated that that among the largest barriers in helping 16- and 17-year-old students gain WBL experiences is the lack of awareness on both the industry and student sides. Many smaller companies do not know about WBL opportunities and/or lack the resources to participate, making involvement in their associations even more critical. The comments also argued that to help increase access and awareness for students, integration with the school curriculum is needed as well as incentives such as the ability to earn credits towards a degree. You can view the full One Voice comments here:



California Issues Proposed Exposure Levels for Trivalent Chromium
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has released a draft document for public review on the proposed Reference Exposure Levels (RELs) for Chromium (Trivalent) and Inorganic Water-Soluble Trivalent Chromium Compounds (Cr(III)). OEHHA will be accepting public comments through February 22, 2021, and will hold a virtual public workshop on February 2, 2021.
RELs are the acute, chronic, and 8-hour airborne concentration levels of a chemical that are not anticipated to result in adverse noncancer health effects for the general public. The proposed REL values for Cr(III) are:
  • Acute REL (for a 1–hour exposure): 2.5 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3)
  • Chronic REL (for long–term exposures): 0.34 µg/m3
  • 8–Hour REL (for repeated 8–hour exposures): 0.68 µg/m3
Like the traditionally used hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)), Cr(III) is also used as decorative plating. Cr(III) compounds are also used as dietary supplements, pigments, catalysts, and leather tanning agents.