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AFS Supports Strengthening Buy American

Stephanie Salmon

March 2021

Last month, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Make It in America Act, which seeks to close loopholes that allow federal agencies to use waivers to get around Buy American preferences. The measure is designed to ensure that when the government spends taxpayer money, it is reinvested into American workers, companies and communities instead of being sent overseas.

“We all share the same goal to grow manufacturing, including domestic metalcasting here in the U.S.,” said AFS CEO Doug Kurkul, “And the strong Buy America requirements of this bill make certain that taxpayer dollars for federal projects are spent on metal castings and manufactured goods made in America by American workers.”

Key provisions of the Make It in America Act measure include:
•    Increase American-made content from 50 to 75 percent to ensure manufactured products bought by the federal government are made with American-made components. 
•    Close loopholes in Buy American laws that allow federal agencies to use waivers to get around Buy American preferences. 
•    Require that each waiver to the Buy American Act be publicly posted online with detailed justifications. 
•    Create a new “Made in America Office” within the Office of Management and Budget, charged with reviewing waivers to the Buy American Act and ensuring compliance with other Buy American laws. This office mirrors President Biden’s executive order to create a central office dedicated to enforcing Buy American laws.
•    Give small- and medium-sized American manufacturers the first opportunity to provide products for federally funded transportation projects. 

AFS looks forward to working with the bill sponsors, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mike Braun (R-IN), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in securing passage of the Make It in America Act.       

Metalcasters Can Take Advantage of Employee Retention Tax Credit Expansion

Metalcasters may be eligible to take advantage of the recently expanded Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). This refundable, advanceable tax credit is available under a new federal law enacted in December 2020 for wages paid in 2020 and in the first two quarters of 2021. 

For Q1 and Q2 2021, the ERTC offers savings of up to $7,000 per employee, per quarter, and an annual maximum of up to $14,000 per employee, while for 2020, the program offers $5,000 per employee.

The tax credit is available to small businesses (100 or fewer employees for 2020, 500 or fewer employees for 2021) that experienced a government-mandated shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as any business that saw a substantial drop in gross receipts compared to the same quarter in 2019 (50% or greater drop in 2020, 20% or greater drop in 2021). 

Metalcasters can take advantage of the ERTC in addition to the first-round and second-round Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The only restriction on using these programs together is you cannot claim ERTC refunds on wages paid by a PPP loan. The IRS is expected to issue further guidance shortly on this expanded ERTC process.    

Biden Issues Executive Order Addressing Climate Change 

President Biden recently issued the executive order (EO) “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad” and called for a whole-of-government approach to climate change for both domestic and foreign affairs.

The EO establishes the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, which will be led by a national climate advisor and a newly established National Climate Force consisting of various cabinet and agency heads from across the government.

Additional elements of the EO include:
• Clean Energy Financing and Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies—Directs federal agencies to identify opportunities to spur the innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technology and infrastructure, as well as eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. 
• Offshore Wind—Directs the U.S. Department of Interior to review siting and permitting processes offshore in federal waters, with the goal of doubling offshore wind production by 2030.
• Federal Procurement of Electric Vehicles—The Council on Environmental Quality, the General Services Administration, and the Office of Management and Budget will assist the national climate advisor in developing a plan on federal procurement of clean electricity and zero-emissions vehicles for the nearly 600,000 federal, state, and local government fleets.
• Environmental Justice—Establishes a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and the White House Justice Advisory Council within EPA.
• Follow Made in American Law Requirements—Agencies involved in producing clean energy, energy efficiency, and clean energy procurement decisions will need to ensure they are consistent with the EO.

Few details on the precise scope of future agency actions, the timeline, and the process for engaging stakeholders on greenhouse gas controls are available.  AFS will be involved with agency officials and provide comments on key elements of this EO.