Senator Looks to Close “Buy American” Loophole in Small Shipyard Grants

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced the bipartisan Strengthening Buy America for Small Shipyard Grants Act to close a loophole in the “buy American” language of the Small Shipyard Grant program. The bill is cosponsored by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

While Buy American requirements already apply to the Small Shipyard Grant Program, under the Maritime Administration’s rules for commercially available, off-the-shelf products these federal grants may be used to purchase equipment that is not made in America.

Senator Baldwin’s legislation would close this loophole to support American businesses and workers like Marine Travelift in Sturgeon Bay, which employs nearly 200 workers and uses Wisconsin-sourced materials to manufacture boat handling equipment that is exported around the world. It would ensure that products and materials purchased with small shipyard grant funding, including any commercially available, off-the-shelf item, are manufactured in the United States.

“Buy America is common-sense policy that we need more of,” said Erich Pfeifer, CEO of Marine Travelift in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. “Wisconsin businesses make world-class products, and this bill will help prevent us from being undercut by our own tax dollars going toward competing foreign-built equipment.”