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“Buy American” Executive Order Could Impact U.S. Foreign Military Sales

Legislative Activity

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Wednesday, May 17, the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces has scheduled a hearing titled “Military Space Organization, Policy, and Programs.”

  • On Wednesday, May 17, the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland has scheduled a hearing titled “United States Military Small Arms Requirements.”

  • On Thursday, May 18, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security has scheduled a hearing titled “Requirements, Priorities, and Future Acquisition Plans.”

  • On Thursday, May 18, the Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled a hearing to consider the following nominations:

    • Kari A. Bingen to be Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence, Department of Defense;

    • Robert S. Karem to be Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, Department of Defense;

    • Kenneth P. Rapuano to be Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense And Global Security, Department of Defense; and

    • Ryan D. Newman to be General Counsel, Department of the Army.

Executive Branch Activity

“Buy American” Executive Order Could Impact U.S. Foreign Military Sales

Analysts believe that U.S. defense companies could potentially lose foreign sales opportunities, if other countries choose to limit buying U.S.-made products in response to President Donald Trump’s April 18 “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order (EO).

The EO requires federal agencies to review how frequently they issue waivers to existing Buy American laws and to maximize enforcement of the current laws that require the government to buy U.S.-made goods whenever possible.

If the EO reduces opportunities for foreign companies to do business with the U.S., analysts suggest that there could be some blowback from other countries. Andrew Hunter, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, believes that the EO could lead other nations to adopt policies that require buying from their own domestic firms.  “A lot already have those … [but] it will encourage them to be even more aggressive,” Hunter said. “That is a concern for the defense industry. It definitely complicates the business case they put together for foreign military sales.” According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, foreign military sales in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 totaled $33.6 billion.

Dan Stohr, a spokesman for the Aerospace Industries Association, is unsure if the organization has communicated with the Trump Administration about the impact of “Buy American” directives on the defense industrial base, but noted that it “will be brought up.”

The association, which represents the U.S. aerospace and defense industry, is urging the Administration to focus on closer coordination across the federal government to facilitate military and commercial sales to foreign militaries. Stohr noted, however, that the high-quality of U.S.-made products is reason to be optimistic that foreign countries will continue to purchase military equipment from U.S. companies.

Key Civilian Posts Filled at the Pentagon

On May 10, the Pentagon announced that three key civilian positions at the Department of Defense have been filled.

Elbridge Colby, a fellow at the Center for New American Security, was chosen to be Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategy and Force Development, while Thomas Goffus, a professional staffer with the Senate Armed Services Committee, was tapped to be the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and NATO.

Pete Giambastiani, chief of staff to Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Florida), was named Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs.

All three positions do not require Senate confirmation.

Pooja Virkar is co-author of this article. 


© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP


About this Author

Ludmilla L. Savelieff, Policy Attorney, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm

Ludmilla Savelieff draws on her experience in both domestic and international policy to assist clients on a variety of regulatory, legislative, and legal matters.

Prior to law school, Ms. Savelieff was the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where she gained first-hand experience in the daily operations of the Executive Branch. While at the Council, she worked closely with the Chairman and his team of policy advisors in the development and management of significant Administration policies and...

Clark Kent Ervin government investigations partner Squire Patton Boggs Lawyer

As a member of the Government Investigations & White Collar Practice Group, Clark K. Ervin helps clients under investigation, or facing the prospect of investigation, by federal Offices of Inspector General, to craft, coordinate and implement strategic defenses. An integral member of the firm’s Homeland Security, Defense and Technology Transfer team, as well as our International Policy Practice, Clark also provides invaluable counsel to clients, both corporations and foreign sovereigns, on issues of national security and foreign policy.

Having served as Inspector General of three federal agencies during the administration of President George W. Bush, Clark brings extensive experience and notable expertise to the firm’s Government Investigations & White Collar Practice. From 2003 to 2004, he served as the very first Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and from 2001 to 2002, as the Inspector General of the Department of State (State) and, simultaneously, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the global media arm of the United States government.

In addition to counseling clients facing Inspector General-led investigations, Clark’s work focuses on other executive branch, congressional and internal corporate investigations, and he plays an active role in the firm’s dealings with State Attorneys General, applying knowledge gained while he served the State of Texas as Assistant Secretary of State and a Deputy Attorney General during then Governor George W. Bush’s administration. In this capacity, he represents clients being investigated by State Attorneys General and he also advocates clients’ policy positions to State Attorneys General. Finally, drawing on his experience at State and DHS, Clark counsels clients on cybersecurity matters and immigration-related matters, including the EB-5 Program.

Clark also has considerable expertise in monitorships. In May 2016, the US Department of Education approved Zenith Education Group’s (Zenith) selection of the firm, with Clark leading the team, as the Monitor with respect to certain provisions the department required Zenith to comply with as a condition of its approval of Zenith’s acquisition of some formerly for-profit colleges owned by the now defunct Corinthian Colleges. In July 2016, the US Department of Justice and the City of Ferguson selected the firm, with Clark leading the team, as the Monitor with respect to the Ferguson Police Department’s and the city’s municipal court system’s compliance with the terms of a consent decree. He also counsels companies on compliance-related matters.

In 2008, Clark served as the co-chairman of then President-elect Barack Obama’s Transition Team for DHS, adding to the experience he gained while previously serving as the department’s first Inspector General. From its inception in 2008 to its expiration in September 2011, Clark, an appointee of then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, served as one of the eight members of the independent, bipartisan congressional Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clark’s government experience is complemented by his policy expertise. Since leaving DHS in 2004, Clark has been affiliated with the Aspen Institute, where he founded and chairs the Homeland Security Program. In this capacity, Clark convenes policymakers and thought leaders in homeland security and counterterrorism with a view to helping shape the policy debate.