.....LIPINSKI SLAMS CENSUS BUREAU FOR NOT ‘BUYING AMERICAN’
(May 24, 2010) La Grange, IL - U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-3rd District, of Western Springs wants to know why the Census Bureau spent millions on promotional materials made outside of the country when 2.1 million manufacturing jobs were lost in the in just under three years.
Lipinski and a bipartisan group of 20 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Census Director Robert Groves demanding a detailed explanation of why the Census Bureau spent millions of taxpayer dollars on imported T-shirts, hats and other promotional items.
"For taxpayer dollars to wind up in the pockets of workers in China and Bangladesh, when one in 10 Americans is out of work, and Buy American laws have been on the books for decades is inexcusable," Lipinski said. "Unfortunately, there's every reason to believe this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the federal government needlessly sending taxpayer dollars overseas."
The Census Bureau spent more than $4.3 million on imported T-shirts, shirts, and baseball caps bearing its logo as part of its $6.4 million "March to the Mailbox" campaign. While the printing was done in the United States, the apparel was manufactured in China, Honduras, Bangladesh and other foreign countries.
"Taxpayers dollars should be used to put Americans to work," Lipinski said. "I think it's appalling that tax dollars are used to purchase goods outside of the country."
Lipinski said the Commerce Department appears to be simply exempting many imported goods from Buy American Act coverage instead of seeking waivers for individual purchases. By avoiding the waiver process, the department can avoid telling Congress what products it purchased from foreign sources and how much it spent on particular imported products. This means there is no way forAmerican companies to challenge improperly granted waivers or alert the department of their ability to manufacture a given product.
"We need to get answers from the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department about how they were able to get around U.S. laws," he said.
"Once we get answers, we can see what we can do about future purchases. In the long run, we need to strengthen the Buy American Laws to prevent this in the future."
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