March 6, 2013

Congressional leaders push stricter Buy America rules

Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), joined other transportation leaders in supporting legislation that would ensure all federal transportation and infrastructure investments support American jobs and domestic manufacturing.

Under the Invest in American Jobs Act of 2013, all future highway, bridge, public transit, passenger rail, and airport projects financed by U.S. taxpayers would be stamped “Made in America” and crafted with American workmanship. The bill is sponsored by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s top Democrat Rep. Nick Rahall and supported by a number of labor organizations and domestic manufacturing companies.

In the last session of Congress, Garamendi authored similar Buy America legislation to manufacture transportation and clean energy systems in America.

The Invest in American Jobs Act of 2013, which Rep. Rahall, Rep. Garamendi, and the other five Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Ranking Members are introducing would require all transit, rail, wastewater or airport infrastructure investments financed by U.S. taxpayers to be made with American materials and American craftsmanship.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Strengthens existing Buy America requirements for investments in highway, bridge, public transit, rail, and aviation infrastructure and equipment to ensure that all of the steel, iron and manufactured goods used in these projects are produced in the U.S.
  • Increases domestic content requirements for public transit rolling stock and federally-procured aviation facilities and equipment from 60% under current law to 100% by FY 2017.
  • Applies Buy America requirements to other transportation and infrastructure investment where such requirements do not exist in current law, including rail infrastructure grants, loans, and loan guarantees, Clean Water State Revolving Fund grants and Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants.
  • Requires federal agencies to justify any proposed waiver of the Buy America requirements and ensures that the American public has notice of and an opportunity to comment on any proposed waiver prior to it taking effect.

Committee Democrats are urging quick action on the measure as over $50 billion in Federal funding authorized in the new surface transportation law is now being obligated for highway and transit infrastructure projects. Congress is also expected to consider legislation to provide significant federal investment in rail and water infrastructure in the coming months.

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