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Amata calls for prioritizing ‘Buy American’ when it comes to tuna

Amata speaking in committee
Source: Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata’s D.C. staff

Washington, D.C. — In a Wednesday oversight hearing, Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata raised the issue of prioritizing Buy American laws in U.S. government purchases, including tuna, and took part in a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough urging more effort to follow Buy American laws.

 “This is an issue which is very important to my district,” said Congresswoman Amata. “The administration’s overuse of exemptions harms local economies like American Samoa’s fishing and canning industry. We are in direct competition with foreign processers who underpay their workers and have lower standards for illegal and unreported fishing. This not only harms our economy and the environment, but a lack of support for American industry and self-sufficiency opens us up to national security concerns. Unscrupulous actors such as China, who do not have the same commitment to quality and safety as the U.S., will capitalize on every bit of business we cede to other countries, be that directly or indirectly. Our agenda today focuses on VA procurement, but the importance of upholding the Buy American Act across the board cannot be overstated.”

Amata, along with a number of House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs colleagues, took part in a letter to Secretary McDonough following concerns that the Biden administration is falling short in its duty to support domestic producers and serve America’s veterans with American-made goods.

The letter states: “The information posted on about VA non-availability procurement waivers is typically vague and includes minimal descriptions of what market research was performed or how VA staff searched for domestic alternatives. VA has posted just two approved Build America, Buy America Act waivers on its public website since May 2022. This is a remarkably low number given that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (P.L. 117-58), or IIJA, was signed into law almost two years ago, and the website indicates it has not been updated for nearly six months…We think you would agree that VA should be caring for the men and women who have served with products made with the American ingenuity they fought to defend.”

Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations Chairwoman Jen Kiggans (R-Va.), a U.S. Navy veteran, led Wednesday’s oversight hearing titled, “VA Procurement: Made in America.” During this hearing, the subcommittee examined VA’s compliance with domestic preference statutes including, but not limited to, the Buy American Act and the Build America, Buy America Act, as well as relevant regulations, policies, and Executive Orders.

Click on attachment to download full text of letter to the VA Secretary.