The amendment is a step in the right direction to help the troubled steel industry, the congressman said.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The House of Representatives approved yet another "Buy American" amendment sponsored by U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. -- this one requiring that new Coast Guard vessels be built in U.S. shipyards using U.S. steel.
The Traficant amendment to the Coast Guard bill was approved Thursday by the House by voice vote.
The U.S. Coast Guard's $5.3 billion authorization from the House includes $659 million for the acquisition, construction, rebuilding and improvement of vessels, aircrafts and equipment.
Benefit to industry: The amendment will benefit the struggling U.S. steel industry, Traficant said. Domestic steel producers say the use of foreign steel illegally sold in the country at below cost has caused serious damage to the American steel industry, forcing several companies, including CSC Ltd. of Warren, to declare bankruptcy.
"This once again fortifies the American steel industry by ensuring that specific markets, including and especially those concerning America's defense, are exclusively available to domestic steelmakers," Traficant said in a prepared statement.
The Buy American provision can be waived by the secretary of transportation in cases where a sufficient quantity or quality of U.S. steel is not available, where compliance with the amendment would increase the overall project cost by more than 25 percent, or in cases where the provision "would be inconsistent with public interest," said Charles Straub, Traficant's spokesman.
Known for amendments: Traficant, who is facing a 10-count criminal indictment, is well-known in Congress for adding "Buy American" amendments to bills requiring the government purchase materials from only American companies.
Traficant added that provision to the education-reform spending plan recently approved by Congress, requiring school districts receiving money from the bill to use American-made steel in construction projects. The problem is, the bill does not include any money for construction projects.
Traficant recently introduced legislation calling for Congress to add $500 million in federal funding annually for school construction to the education-reform bill.