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Public Statements

Motions to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 4348, Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the motion to instruct offered by my good friend, the ranking member of the Transportation Committee, Mr. Rahall. Mr. Rahall has been a true advocate for the American worker, and certainly for our Nation's transportation system. He understands the key importance of not only passing this bill, but making sure that this bill is putting Americans to work.

This Congress, I have been working to improve Buy American requirements through my Buy American Improvement Act. Mr. Rahall introduced the Invest in American Jobs Act of 2011. Unfortunately, we have been unable to move either of these bills here in the House, and we were unable to include language in the House version of the bill that we worked on in committee. But over in the Senate, they came to a bipartisan agreement to include these important provisions in the bill, including prohibiting the segmentation of transportation projects, guaranteeing transparency and opportunities for public comment on requests for waivers to Buy American provisions, requiring longstanding waivers to be reconsidered, and requiring DOT to report annually on the waivers it grants.

Now why is this important? It's important because all too often there are loopholes that are either purposely used in order to get a product from overseas, or sometimes just simply overlooked.

I had an issue with a contractor, a defense contractor in my district, who lost a job, lost a bid to make a product to a South Korean company. They knew that the law was not followed. But far too often, someone who has a product to offer, someone who has a product that can be used in a transportation project, does not even know that they were passed over. It's critical that we put this Senate language in the final bill, the conferees do that, so we can know when an American company can do the job, and we get that to American workers.

If we ensure that all of the iron, steel, manufactured goods used in Federal highway, transit, and railroad projects is produced in the United States, it creates jobs for American manufacturers and stops needless outsourcing. In addition, by closing loopholes, those provisions will guarantee that when projects are funded by U.S. taxpayers, they will be made by American workers and create American jobs instead of being outsourced overseas.

There's a reason that the Chinese insist on ``Buy Chinese,'' just as India insists on ``Buy Indian,'' and Brazil on ``Buy Brazilian.''

We're here to say that we need to do the same thing, to send the message that U.S. taxpayer dollars should be spent in the United States, not in China, not anywhere else.

These are provisions our country needs now more than ever. The American taxpayer funds for transportation should be used to create American jobs. It's just common sense. If you go home, any of us, we go home and we talk to our constituents, they understand it. They know that it's common sense. Unfortunately, it's far too infrequent that we do what is common sense here.

The Senate managed to do what is common sense and put in important, key Buy American provisions in their version of the transportation bill. The conferees should accept that Senate position, that bipartisan position, the commonsense position, and make sure that we get this transportation bill passed as soon as possible and make sure that those taxpayer funds are used to put Americans to work, not to be outsourced.

I urge my colleagues to support this motion.

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