On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to review their policies with respect to hiring foreign workers, and to examine the controversial H-1B visa program for skilled foreign workers, popular with many tech companies.
The order also directed agencies to minimize the number of waivers the government issues that allow exceptions to “Buy American Laws.”
Trump signed the order while on a visit to the headquarters of Snap-On, a tool manufacturer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Though the order is intended as demonstration of Trump’s commitment to his “America First” campaign promise, the direct impact of the order remains unclear. In January, when Trump signed an executive action restarting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, he touted a new requirement that the pipeline be made with American steel. In early March, however, his administration revealed that the Keystone pipeline would be exempt from the “buy American” requirement.
Trump’s latest order makes it clear that all components of steel production must occur in the US to qualify as American.
The full text of the order is available below:
BUY AMERICAN AND HIRE AMERICAN
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to ensure the faithful execution of the laws, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Definitions. As used in this order:
(a) "Buy American Laws" means all statutes, regulations, rules, and Executive Orders relating to Federal procurement or Federal grants ‑‑ including those that refer to "Buy America" or "Buy American" ‑‑ that require, or provide a preference for, the purchase or acquisition of goods, products, or materials produced in the United States, including iron, steel, and manufactured goods.
(b) "Produced in the United States" means, for iron and steel products, that all manufacturing processes, from the initial melting stage through the application of coatings, occurred in the United States.
(c) "Petition beneficiaries" means aliens petitioned for by employers to become nonimmigrant visa holders with temporary work authorization under the H-1B visa program.
(d) "Waivers" means exemptions from or waivers of Buy American Laws, or the procedures and conditions used by an executive department or agency (agency) in granting exemptions from or waivers of Buy American Laws.
(e) "Workers in the United States" and "United States workers" shall both be defined as provided at section 212(n)(4)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(n)(4)(E)).
Sec. 2. Policy. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to buy American and hire American.
(a) Buy American Laws. In order to promote economic and national security and to help stimulate economic growth, create good jobs at decent wages, strengthen our middle class, and support the American manufacturing and defense industrial bases, it shall be the policy of the executive branch to maximize, consistent with law, through terms and conditions of Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements, the use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States.
(b) Hire American. In order to create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests, it shall be the policy of the executive branch to rigorously enforce and administer the laws governing entry into the United States of workers from abroad, including section 212(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(5)).
Sec. 3. Immediate Enforcement and Assessment of Domestic Preferences According to Buy American Laws. (a) Every agency shall scrupulously monitor, enforce, and comply with Buy American Laws, to the extent they apply, and minimize the use of waivers, consistent with applicable law.
(b) Within 150 days of the date of this order, the heads of all agencies shall:
(i) assess the monitoring of, enforcement of, implementation of, and compliance with Buy American Laws within their agencies;
(ii) assess the use of waivers within their agencies by type and impact on domestic jobs and manufacturing; and
(iii) develop and propose policies for their agencies to ensure that, to the extent permitted by law, Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements maximize the use of materials produced in the United States, including manufactured products; components of manufactured products; and materials such as steel, iron, aluminum, and cement.
(c) Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce and theDirector of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Labor, the United States Trade Representative, and the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, shall issue guidance to agencies about how to make the assessments and to develop the policies required by subsection (b) of this section.
(d) Within 150 days of the date of this order, the heads of all agencies shall submit findings made pursuant to the assessments required by subsection (b) of this section to the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
(e) Within 150 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative shall assess the impacts of all United States free trade agreements and the World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement on the operation of Buy American Laws, including their impacts on the implementation of domestic procurement preferences.
(f) The Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State, theDirector of the Office of Management and Budget, and the United States Trade Representative, shall submit to the President a report on Buy American that includes findings from subsections (b), (d), and (e) of this section. This report shall be submitted within 220 days of the date of this order and shall include specific recommendations to strengthen implementation of Buy American Laws, including domestic procurement preference policies and programs. Subsequent reports on implementation of Buy American Laws shall be submitted by each agency head annually to the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, on November 15, 2018, 2019, and 2020, and in subsequent years as directed by the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. The Secretary of Commerce shall submit to the President an annual report based on these submissions beginning January 15, 2019.
Sec. 4. Judicious Use of Waivers. (a) To the extent permitted by law, public interest waivers from Buy American Laws should be construed to ensure the maximum utilization of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States.
(b) To the extent permitted by law, determination of public interest waivers shall be made by the head of the agency with the authority over the Federal financial assistance award or Federal procurement under consideration.
(c) To the extent permitted by law, before granting a public interest waiver, the relevant agency shall take appropriate account of whether a significant portion of the cost advantage of a foreign-sourced product is the result of the use of dumped steel, iron, or manufactured goods or the use of injuriously subsidized steel, iron, or manufactured goods, and it shall integrate any findings into its waiver determination as appropriate.
Sec. 5. Ensuring the Integrity of the Immigration System in Order to "Hire American." (a) In order to advance the policy outlined in section 2(b) of this order, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, as soon as practicable, and consistent with applicable law, propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system, including through the prevention of fraud or abuse.
(b) In order to promote the proper functioning of the H-1B visa program, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, as soon as practicable, suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.
Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof;
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals; or
(iii) existing rights or obligations under international agreements.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
April 18, 2017.