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President Biden's “Buy American” Order Makes History as New Clean Energy American Jobs Debuts

Diane Lilli

President Biden’s ambitious Executive Order title says it all: “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of Americas Workers.” The president’s new U.S. focused order, created to engage Americans to spend their money on items made in the U.S., harkens to decades past, when “Made in the U.S.A.” was proudly promoted by generations of Americans.


Flash forward to 2021, and U.S. manufacturing plus manufacturing jobs are barely hanging on. In 1998, U.S.A. News reports, “there were 18.1 million manufacturing jobs, 11% of total jobs and 5.6 million more than in 2018.”

Since the 1990s, the N.Y.C. based Garment Center has been the most densely populated hub for garment manufacturing and sales globally but is now mostly empty. Today, about ninety-five percent of all clothing is made in foreign countries.

Biden’s bold new act calls for a new national mission for “AMERICAN TAXPAYERSdollars ….to be spent on American goods made by American workers and with American-made parts.”

The new order compels the federal government to purchase American made products as their first choice and that if they cannot buy U.S. products, to submit a formal waiver for approval to go outside the country. 

A new website will be available for American businesses to visit and see all foreign contracts made to foreign vendors, offering transparency with a dash of a competitive push to U.S. firms. The website will offer U.S. vendors a way to alert the federal government that domestic alternatives are available with a click of a button.

With the depression-like crisis of the pandemic-inspired closing or pausing most U.S. businesses, calls for a push to buy American products first are a common refrain heard by both Republicans and Democrats. Downtown U.S.A. is hurting, and the widespread consensus among Congress is that the government should step in and direct purchases back to American soil.

One glaring example of the absence of missing, vital American manufacturing occurred recently during the Pandemic. Thousands of American doctors and nurses, serving on the front lines of Covid-19, could not find Personal Protective Equipment (P.P.E.)  as they tried to save lives in overwhelmed hospitals, medical centers, and clinics.

Non-profit organization Public Citizen reports the U.S. federal government spends about $600 billion on contracts, with most of the money going to foreign companies. The site states, “Firms and products from 60 nations with which the United States has trade pacts have been given the same access to U.S. government contracts as domestic firms and goods for all but the lowest-value government contracts.”

The Buy American concept is not new, and as always, how to enforce this order will be daunting. 

Biden’s order creates new mandates that agency heads must not use old loopholes that allow foreign companies to receive American dollars for goods, at least without first pricing these orders with U.S. companies.

For the first time, the order has a “new senior leader in the Executive Office of the President in charge of the governments Made-in-America policy approach.” This executive order will be responsible for approving or denying all waivers from agency heads when their orders do not call for American made items.

Another mandate created by Biden is support for the Jones Act, a “mandate that only U.S.-flag vessels carry cargo between U.S. ports, which supports American production and Americas workers.”

And for the first time in history, the Made in U.S.A./Buy in U.S.A. mandate will cross over into the landscape of renewable energy and climate change.

 As Biden states, “With the signing of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, the Jones Act has also been affirmed as an opportunity to invest in Americas workers as we build offshore renewable energy, in line with the Presidents goals to build our clean energy future here in America.”


Clean energy, as created by and purchased by American citizens, is the bold new piece of this new Biden order. With much needed clean energy work as the carrot for new American jobs, the classic-sounding new Biden order Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of Americas Workers” might be the most revolutionary executive order to date.


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