Murphy has win in ‘Buy America’ campaign

Sen. Chris Murphy

Sen. Chris Murphy

Washington – The Senate on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy that would require the Pentagon to report to Congress purchases made overseas in the hope it would discourage shopping there.

Murphy’s “Buy American” measure  was approved in a package of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act by unanimous consent.

“By passing my amendment, the Senate has taken the common-sense stand that American taxpayer dollars should be spent on American-made goods when possible,” Murphy said. “This will keep us safer and help create jobs in the United States instead of overseas.”

Murphy’s amendment would require the Pentagon to issue an annual report to Congress on all requests for waivers from the Buy American Act that would allow the Defense Department to purchase goods valued at more than $5 million overseas.

Under the Buy American Act, government agencies are required by law to prefer U.S.-made products in their purchases and are banned from buying anything that does not contain at least 50 percent American-origin components in its assembly — unless that agency has obtained a waiver.

The National Defense Authorization Act, a massive bill that would authorize billions of dollars in spending on weapons systems built in Connecticut, was approved by the Senate later in the day on a 71-25 vote.

Murphy released a report this week that said the Pentagon was granted 307,123 waivers and exceptions to the Buy American Act over in the last eight years, and spent $176.8 billion on goods manufactured by foreign companies.

The report said that even as the Pentagon’s reliance on waivers overall has decreased, the number of waivers used for shipbuilding and aerospace products — two of Connecticut’s important manufacturing sectors — remains steady at $5.4 billion.

The House–approved version of the defense authorization bill does not contain Murphy’s Buy American amendment, but an aide to the senator said he is confident it will be included in a final bill negotiated between the House and Senate.

The Pentagon did not have an immediate comment on the legislation.

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