Trump pushes agencies to review, reduce foreign hires on federal contracts
- By Nathan Abse
- Aug 06, 2020
The White House this week ordered all agencies to review their procedures to ensure that federal contractors employ U.S. nationals ahead of foreign workers.
“It is the policy of the executive branch to create opportunities for United States workers to compete for jobs, including jobs created through federal contracts,” the Aug. 3 executive order states. “These opportunities, particularly in regions where the federal government remains the largest employer, are especially critical during the economic dislocation caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic.”
“When employers trade American jobs for temporary foreign labor, for example, it reduces opportunities for United States workers in a manner inconsistent with the role guest-worker programs are meant to play in the nation’s economy,” the order says.
The EO was issued the same day the Trump administration fired two top leaders at the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned electrical utility with 10 million customers and $10 billion in annual revenue. TVA had laid off 62 employees and was preparing to lay off a total of over 200 -- in favor of outsourcing the jobs to companies whose headquarters are outside the U.S. -- when an interest-group’s TV ad decrying the moves caught the attention of the president.
Agency leaders, according to the EO, must review all contracts and subcontracts for FY 2018 and FY 2019, to determine whether those contractors used “temporary foreign labor,” and the extent to which such practices affected opportunities for U.S. workers. Where opportunities were damaged, agencies must evaluate whether any current laws or previous executive orders protecting U.S. nationals had been violated and, if so, “propose action” to address the situation.
Within 45 days of the EO’s issuance, key agency heads must move specifically to protect U.S. workers under federal contracts from loss of work to foreign nationals holding American work visas. The “Secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security shall take action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to protect United States workers from any adverse effects on wages and working conditions caused by the employment of H-1B visa holders at job sites,” the order states.
Further down the line -- by 120 days out from the EO -- the head of every federal agency must submit a report to the Office of Management and Budget summarizing the findings of their review, the “corrective actions” they plan to take and a timeline for implementing them.