Texas Legislature Unanimously Passes Bill to Expand Buy America

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
May 27 2021 |
An aerial photo of the Northeast Texas Community College (NTCC) campus. Buy America preferences could soon apply to taxpayer-funded construction projects at state institutions of higher learning, including community colleges. Photo via NTCC

The legislation would ensure Buy America preferences apply at public institutions of higher education.

Buy America could soon get a big boost in the Lone Star State.

The Texas legislature unanimously approved legislation this week to expand Buy America preferences to certain construction projects at public institutions of higher education. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, who has until mid-June to sign it.

Introduced by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R) and Rep. Jim Murphy (R), the legislation would require that when state tax dollars are spent on the construction of buildings at public colleges and universities, the iron and steel used in these projects be American-made, whenever possible.

Similar Buy America provisions have been on the books in Texas for more than 40 years, applying to everything from the construction of roads and bridges to other government buildings. Now, it could soon also apply to construction projects at institutes of higher learning.

Buy America just makes sense. When taxpayer money is reinvested back into American workers and companies, it helps create jobs and boosts the local economy. Why send that money overseas to places like China when there are American workers ready and willing to do the job, and at a fair price?

Buy America has broad bipartisan appeal (as the unanimous vote on this particular piece of legislation proves). Polls indicate widespread public support as well. A 2020 poll by TradeVistas found that 75% of Americans support Buy America; our own polling in 2019 found that 80% of Americans back Buy America.

Lawmakers in other states also have been busy in recent months on similar Buy America legislation. In April, New York expanded its Buy America rule to cover certain state-funded energy projects. The New Jersey legislature unanimously approved a Buy America bill in March, while lawmakers in Maine are considering a Buy America bill.

There’s also bipartisan support for Buy American at the federal level, with several pieces of legislation moving through Congress this session. President Biden also has made Buy America a priority. He recently named Celeste Drake as the first-ever Director of Made in America and has made Buy America a big part of his proposed American Jobs Plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure.