WASHINGTON Feb 9 An Indiana Democrat who
crafted Buy American provisions approved by the House of
Representatives is likely to agree to changes made by the
Senate last week to address international concerns, a spokesman
for the lawmaker said on Monday.
"He's indicated he's inclined to support it," a spokesman
for Representative Pete Visclosky said. "I think the objective
is (creating) American jobs, and it appears the Senate language
would do just as good a job, if not better" than the House
version, he said.
Visclosky, who is chairman of the Congressional Steel
Caucus, used his position on the House Appropriations Committee
to add language requiring all public works projects funded by a
huge economic stimulus bill use only U.S.-made iron and steel.
That sparked concern in Canada and the European Union that
their steel exporters would not share in the vastly expanded
U.S. public works market, despite some commitments the United
States has made under the World Trade Organization government
Many U.S. business groups also warned that the House move
could backfire on the United States by encouraging other
countries to put similar provisions in their stimulus plans or
adopt other measures viewed as protectionist.
After President Barack Obama urged Congress to drop any
provision in the stimulus package that could trigger a trade
war, the Senate toned down its version by requiring that the
Buy American provision be "applied in a manner consistent with
U.S. obligations under international agreements."
The Senate is expected to approve its overall stimulus bill
on Tuesday. That would set the stage for negotiations with the
House on a final package to send to Obama, who has said he
wants Congress to finish its work by Monday.
The Senate Buy American provision is broader than the House
version in one important way because it requires public works
projects funded by the stimulus bill to use U.S.-made
manufactured goods in addition to U.S.-made iron and steel.
Still, Canadian and European Union officials have
cautiously welcomed the Senate vote, which gives members of the
government procurement agreement and various U.S. free trade
pacts comfort they could still supply some steel and other
goods for the new stimulus projects.
However, the United States does not have specific
government procurement commitments with many countries such as
China, Brazil, India and Russia.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Vicki Allen)