Last week, President Trump issued a new executive order, entitled “Strengthening Buy-American Preferences for Infrastructure Projects.” This order serves as an extension of the President’s earlier April 2017 “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, which we have previously analyzed in this space. The April 2017 order stated that “it shall be the policy of the executive branch to buy American and hire American,” and, among other things, directed agencies to “scrupulously, monitor, enforce, and comply with” domestic preference laws (referred to by the executive order as “Buy American Laws”) and to minimize use of waivers that would permit the purchase of foreign end products.
The President’s new order continues to emphasize the importance of “the use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States,” but is specifically directed towards infrastructure projects that are recipients of federal financial assistance awards. As we have reported previously, federally-financed infrastructure has also been a stated area of focus for the Trump administration, although the Administration’s “Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America” released last year curiously lacked any domestic preference requirements.
The new executive order makes up for this previous omission and then some: it has the potential to affect a vast number of programs and projects, and may in fact impose domestic sourcing requirements in areas—such as internet infrastructure—that are not typically targets for domestic preferences.