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Florida Steel Bill Will Make The Rust Belt Shine Again

Legislators work to save American jobs and block substandard Chinese steel and iron in Florida’s infrastructure projects.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — A bill advancing in the Florida Senate (SB 304) that aims to save American jobs and foster a competitive process of procuring American-made steel and iron is headed to the Senate floor.

Under the proposal, Florida taxpayer-funded projects would give preference to companies that manufacture in the United States and continue to invest in U.S. operations by modernizing plants and creating jobs in the process.

“State taxpayer dollars should not be used to reward those companies who have moved their operations, investment dollars and jobs to foreign countries that completely disregard environmental and workplace safety regulations,” Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez (R-Doral), the bill’s co-sponsor, said in committee.

“For over 75 years, ‘buy American’ or domestic preference laws have been a part of the U.S. procurement policy to ensure that we can build and rebuild our infrastructure with high-quality, American-made materials,” Rodriguez added.


In last year’s legislative session, the House nearly passed the same version of the bill before it was criticized for its potential to curb free market practices. But Rich Templin, director of public policy at the Florida AFL-CIO, an organization that represents over 500 local labor unions, said the bill would go a long way toward increasing economic development in Florida and the nation.

Chinese steel is considered substandard and often poses safety concerns. Between 2011 and 2012 eight bridges in China constructed using domestic steel collapsed. According to engineering firm CDMG, Chinese steel firms are buying and partnering with American companies behind the scenes to sell inferior steel with fake certificates in the U.S.


Governor DeSantis has been vocal about breaking ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – saying the U.S. is too intertwined with China economically. The governor said the previous generation’s idea of bestowing “most favored nation” status on China in an attempt to make them more like us is a failed experiment.

“It hurts our economy and it hurts our security,” DeSantis said just after his 2023 inauguration. “I think we’re a big fish now. I think we have the 13th biggest economy in the world, if we were our own country in Florida, you know, we’re a force to be reckoned with.”


DeSantis also toured key battleground states earlier this year promoting his book, The Courage to Be Free. In the book, DeSantis says the “Rust Belt” of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio – where his parents were born, and great-grandparents settled as immigrants – is where his working-class values are grounded.

The collapse of the steel industry in the “Rust Belt” forced DeSantis’ parents and tens of thousands of others to move out of the region to find work. Now, a super-PAC focused on motivating DeSantis to run for the Republican presidential nomination has released a new ad comparing the governor to high-quality American-made steel.