NJ Lawmakers Advance Buy American Bill

By John Celock

The Democratic-controlled New Jersey Assembly overrode objections from the state’s business community Thursday to pass a series of bills to require the purchase of products made in the United States for state government projects.

Lawmakers voted 43-25 with six abstentions to pass the bill, which business leaders have argued will hurt the state’s international trade relationships and make it harder to recruit new businesses. The legislation would cover state government, along with bills that cover several independent authorities including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Supporters have said that the legislation, which still needs to be considered by the Democratic-controlled state Senate, would expand American industries and jobs. The bill includes waivers for products that could not be obtained in the United States.

Republicans objected during sparse floor debate, arguing that the business community needed to be listened to.

“I said in the beginning that this is a bad bill but a good name. I am as patriotic as it gets,” Assemblyman Tony Bucco (R-Boonton) said during debate. “I am proud to be an American and proud to live in this great state. We have heard that this bill will not benefit our residents. In fact it will set them back. I ask you all to please consider that those who have the experience in this area have to say.”

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) argued that the bill would place more regulations on business and hurt the economy.

The bill has received consideration in other states. Earlier this year, the GOP-controlled Kansas House of Representatives defeated an amendment from state Rep. Brandon Whipple (D-Wichita) that would have required a Buy American law. He argued that the bill would help the overall American economy.

“I believe that Kansas taxpayer dollars should go toward strengthening our economy when possible,” Whipple told The Celock Report in March. “We should be focused on keeping jobs here by setting a preference on USA made products instead of contracting with companies in China and overseas.”