More than 200 jobs at Klein Steel in Rochester, and jobs at other companies like it, could be in jeopardy if the “Buy America” provision lapses next year, according to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
“Buy America” is a requirement for federally-funded water and sewer infrastructure projects to be manufactured with American-made parts. At a news conference held at Klein Steel’s headquarters Tuesday, Schumer said he wants Congress to extend the provision and also add it to any large infrastructure spending bill.
“What they did is they diluted the ‘Buy America’ provision in the Water Resources Development Act, so it only goes through September. That's not good,” Schumer said, “Companies like this have to plan years out. If they want to buy some kind of new machine, they don't want to know that the provision could expire in just 10 months."
The steel industry has been cutting jobs and shutting down businesses. The senator said losing the provision could effectively pull the rug out from under American steel companies and open the door for steel products made in China to undercut companies like Klein.
“I've always been committed to making sure that our American workers get a fair shake,” Schumer said.
Tim Haggerty, an employee at Klein Steel, said the manufacturer deserves to remain on a level playing field with other companies.
“The simple fact is, if we can make it here, let's make it here. And if we can buy it from each other in this country, then let's do that,” Haggerty said.
Klein Steel is looking to hire more staff and double its business over the next five years.
Schumer committed to working with his Senate colleagues to pass legislation that would strengthen “Buy America.”