Buy American, Hire American: Trump’s Newest Executive Order

“President Trump has been using the system of executive orders to help advance his program of economic nationalism.”

President Trump is scheduled to sign the order today as he visits the Snap-On Tools company in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The “Buy American, Hire American” executive order has two portions in it that affect jobs and products in the US.

“The capability of the American middle class to make things and keep them running has been at the base of our nation’s strength since its founding. We believe the president’s visit emphasizes the need to nurture such manufacturing strength,” said Snap-On CEO Nicholas Pinchuk.

The “Hire American” portion of the order targets the H-1B visa program, which allows 85,000 foreign workers into the United States each year to take specific high-skilled jobs with US companies. The H-1B visa program is very popular with information and technology companies and Silicon Valley. The president has often stated that Silicon Valley has been using the program to import wage workers on H-1B visas and take jobs from young college-trained and skilled Americans.

The executive order will look for administrative changes, including an overhaul of the lottery system used to determine which companies can sponsor the visas, one official said. Other visa programs, like the H-2B seasonal worker visa, will be largely unaffected. Tuesday’s executive order will direct the Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, and State departments to undertake a wholesale review of the H-1B visa program and put forth recommendations that can be achieved administratively or through legislation.

The “Buy American” portion of the order will tighten the waivers and exemptions agencies use to get around procurement laws that favor American-made goods and require agency heads to sign off on those waivers. The new order will require agencies to consider whether foreign governments are using unfair trade practices when considering the lowest responsible bidder. The law includes language requiring transportation projects to use steel “melted and poured” in the United States.

President Trump has been using the system of executive orders to help advance his program of economic nationalism. By using his “power of the pen,” he can marry procurement programs along with immigration. Combining the two policies in this way gives each a greater effect in forwarding the goal of setting the American economy on a preferred course.

President Trump often speaks—and in previous incidences, writes orders—in general terms allowing for adjustment and clarification. This order is no different, as it is a guideline and asks cabinet secretaries to fill in the details with reports and recommendations about what the administration can do legally.

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