Trump issues ‘Buy American’ executive order, includes review of visa program

Amid rising tension on the Korean peninsula, President Trump shifted focus to domestic issues during a visit to a Kenosha, Wis., tool plant Tuesday, signing an executive order limiting the H-1B visa program and triggering the application of federal laws related to taxpayer-funded projects.

Titled “Buy American and Hire American,” the order aims to review both the controversial H-1B visa program and laws which apply to the acquiring of goods and services in federal programs.

“Right now H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery and that’s wrong. Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest paid applicants and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans,” Trump said.

A review to assess the monitoring, enforcement, implementation of, and compliance with Buy American Laws within associated government agencies is due 150 days from the signing of the order.

Unlike compliance laws for goods and services associated with government projects, the H-1B review does not have a fixed limit.

Trump critic, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) scolded the president, saying his actions ignore Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin’s Senate measure, which has languished in the Senate since May 2016.

Sen. Baldwin’s bill would require the federal government to use American-made products in publicly funded projects.

“If the president is serious about Buy America, the most important thing he can do is announce his support for Tammy Baldwin’s bill today.  That would be real,” Schumer said.

Prominent supporters of the move, however, include AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who said that while the order is “short on specifics”, its a step in the right direction.

 

[Roll Call] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy CNN]