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Senate President Sweeney’s ‘NJ Buy American Act’ Now Law

Trenton –The “New Jersey Buy American Act,” sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney to promote the purchase of American-made steel and iron products, has now been signed into law and will boost job creation as well as the use of domestically manufactured products.

The law, S-853, was co-sponsored by Senator Sweeney and Senator Jim Beach. It ensures that, whenever possible, tax dollars are spent on goods made in the United States by American workers.

“Requiring the purchase of American-made goods for public contracts is good economic sense,” said Senator Sweeney, (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “We have an obligation to use public funds in ways that help both our workers and our businesses. This is part of a national movement in support of American jobs that will help revitalize infrastructure across the state and bolster the strength of our manufacturing industries.”

Under the “New Jersey Buy American Act,” all state contracts over $1 million in value for the construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, maintenance, or improvement of any surface highway or bridge must contain a provision that any iron or steel products are made in whole or substantial part in the United States.

“When we are using public funds to serve public needs, we have a responsibility to use those resources in ways that support domestic needs, including American jobs, New Jersey’s economy and key industries,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden). “Reinvesting tax dollars into the local and national economy promotes growth, expands the tax base, and – by employing more Americans – ultimately reduces the burden on social safety net programs.”

The new law mirrors the Buy American law in New York State, which was set to sunset this year but was made permanent in April. The New Jersey legislation would complement the New York law and ensure that bi-state agencies, such as the Port Authority of NY and NJ, buy American products for all their projects.

“When we buy American, we protect American jobs and invest in the American economy, from big manufacturers to mom-and-pop stores where workers shop,” said Charles Wowkanech, President of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. “Our tax dollars should be kept here at home, not sent overseas. American manufacturing is the best in the world and the best investment for the American taxpayer. Sending taxpayer money to another country for products we make right here at home is an insult to hard-working men and women everywhere.”

Under the law, exemptions will be made for emergency needs, to avoid higher costs, or to obtain specialized steel products, among other limited exemptions.

The law will not conflict with international trade agreements. International law permits members of the World Trade Organization to favor their respective domestic suppliers of goods and services in government procurements.