61 Colum. L. Rev. 430 (1961)
The Buy American Act: A Review and Assessment

handle is hein.journals/clr61 and id is 462 raw text is: THE BUY AMERICAN ACT: A REVIEW AND ASSESSMENT
LAURENCE A. KNAPP*
I. INTRODUCTION
The Buy American Act with certain exceptions requires that materials
procured by federal agencies or used by private contractors in the construc-
tion of federal public works be of United States origin and manufacture.1
When enacted in 1933, the statute created no particular fanfare, and in effect
lay dormant for most of the following twenty years. But fundamental
changes in international political and economic conditions that emerged in
the wake of World War II put an end to the act's quiescent state, with the
result that in the last decade this feature of United States international
trade policy has attracted spirited attention and created a number of intense
controversies.
The conflict arises in the first place from the patent discord between the
act and the central theme of United States international trade policies.
Although from the days of Cordell Hull, the United States has vigorously
espoused the reduction and elimination of trade discriminations, restrictions,
and preferences, it itself engages in these very practices by means of this
act. Moreover, the statute troubles international waters in even broader
degree, because the anti-foreign face it presents to nations working in
common cause with the United States introduces an element of discord into
these relations that at times has assumed inflammatory proportions. Finally,
despite the emphasis placed on governmental economy, the act requires the
United States to pay more than private enterprise pays for equivalent
products, with the taxpayers obliged to foot the excess cost.
These characteristics and consequences of the act have been brought to
public attention in the last ten years by the reports of presidential commis-
sions and advisers, who have recommended repeal or extensive amelioration
of the act.2 Concurrently, instances of the act's application in particular
procurement cases have repeatedly given rise to voluminous and strident
criticism of the law, both domestic and foreign. As a result the President
issued an Executive Order in 1954, considerably liberalizing its application.
Subsequent instances of its application stirred further controversies and
suggestions that the act be repealed. But the proposals for total repeal have
never gained any substantial headway in the Congress, where protectionist
* Mr. KInapp, LL.B., George Washington University, a lawyer in varied federal
service for many years, is engaged in private practice in Washington, D.C., and serves
as counsel in international trade matters to foreign commercial interests.
1. 47 Stat. 1520 (1933), 41 U.S.C. §§ 10a-c (1958).
2. See note 113 infra and accompanying text.

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