U.S. President Biden brings ‘buy American’ message to Mack Trucks plant

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Mack Trucks has long celebrated its made-in-America roots, and on Wednesday it hosted U.S. President Joe Biden as he voiced a “buy American” message.

The U.S. federal government owns about 600,000 vehicles, Biden told workers at the OEM’s Lehigh Valley Operations facility in Pennsylvania. And he has directed the Budget Office to issue a rule that requires 75% of such investments to consist of domestic content – up from 55% today.

President Biden at Mack Trucks
UAW Local 677 Shop Chairman Kevin Fronheiser, President Joe Biden, and Mack Trucks president Martin Weissburg tour Mack’s LVO facility.. (Photo: Mack Trucks)

He also highlighted a $50 billion investment to ensure computer chips are produced in the U.S., “so we’re not held hostage.” Several OEMs have said shortages of such chips have slowed manufacturing activities.

“Today, I’m here to talk about a commitment that’s sacred to me and central to our efforts to keep things moving. It’s a straightforward solution: support and grow more American-based companies. Put more Americans to work in union jobs. Strengthen American manufacturing and secure critical supply chains,” Biden said.

“I can sum it up in two words: Buy American.”

The Buy America Act was designed to ensure tax dollars, when used to purchase goods, focus on American-made goods. But Biden accused the previous administration of being too quick to issue waivers to purchase products from elsewhere.

“In recent years, ‘Buy American’ has become a hollow promise,” he said. “My administration is going to make ‘Buy American’ a reality.  And I’m putting the weight of the federal government behind that commitment.”

Biden and Mack Truck
Biden is calling for 75% of any vehicles purchased by the U.S. government to include domestic content. (Photo: Mack Trucks)

Such a message would undeniably be welcomed by Mack, which produces trucks including the Class 8 Anthem that comes complete with an American flag stamped in its badge.

“Mack is part of the only heavy-duty truck manufacturing group to assemble all of its trucks exclusively in the U.S. for this market,” said Mack president Martin Weissburg. All of the OEM’s heavy-duty models are assembled at the Lehigh Valley Operations facility.

Mack concluded $84 million in improvements at the location in 2020, insourcing the chassis assembly, adding new equipment, and expanding the footprint by 300,000 square feet. The location employs more than 2,500 people and there are plans to hire up to 400 more this year.

Biden also made a specific reference to the battery-electric Mack LR refuse vehicle that he was shown during the tour.

“My Build Back Better Plan has incentives for electric vehicle [adoption], for increasing the amount of clean energy our government buys. And these Buy American rules can help guarantee a reliable market,” he said.

“Right here, on this factory floor, you’re making a product that are fighting climate change … That’s why when I hear ‘climate change,’ I think jobs.” 

“President Biden’s visit to Mack Trucks spotlights the importance of manufacturing and good-paying jobs to the U.S. economy, and we are pleased to have hosted him at our facility,” said Gunnar Brunius, vice president and general manager of LVO.

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • So the current “liar in chief ” announced here that he used to drive an eighteen wheeler, journalists researched this and discovered the largest vehicle he has driven was a school bus, 12 wheels short. No wonder the economy is heading in to the toilet.