Joe Biden, in his first State of the Union address, praised the “iron will” of the Ukrainian people in the go-going war with Russia but promised there will be no Ukrainian iron (Ukraine is a primary exporter of iron) in his infrastructural projects.

After praising the resolve of Ukrainian citizens and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Biden outlined a series of measures intended to bolster the Ukrainian resistance and punish Russia for its brutal campaign. Key among them were mentions of NATO unity, plans for “a dedicated task force” that would “go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs,” and the closure of American airspace to Russian flights.

Sanctions took center stage, while immigration relief was nowhere to be seen. Biden failed to outline refugee immigration measures for Ukrainians and Russians.

“Let me be clear,” Biden said. “Our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.” Given that politicians have been agitating for a U.S.-enforced “no-fly” zone over Ukraine in recent days, this is a critical reassurance.

In what appears to many as a betrayal of support to rebuild a post-war Ukraine, Biden’s declaration of ‘no Ukrainian steel’ will always be in reference in  years to come.

According to was a 2019 Congressional Research Report, identified that buying American steel for infrastructure projects costs about twice as much as importing it from China, That requirement costs American roadbuilders an additional $2 billion from 2009 to 2011, back when then-Vice President Biden was overseeing the spending of stimulus dollars on infrastructure projects.

Procuring American-made buses means paying twice as much as Japan and Korea do for their rolling stock when buying domestically.

“I’m announcing that this year we will start fixing over 65,000 miles of highway and 1,500 bridges in disrepair,” said the president to Congress tonight. “When we use taxpayer dollars to rebuild America, we are going to Buy American. Buy American products to support American jobs.”

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that Biden signed into law in November 2021 expanded requirements that the new roads, bridges, buses, and trains that it would fund would be made in America from American-sourced materials. Those same Buy American provisions ensure we won’t get nearly as much infrastructure for the money as we otherwise could.

That’s because domestically manufactured materials and products often cost more than foreign alternatives. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have to require that project sponsors use them

 

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