By Valerie Myers
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey was in Erie on Monday to stump for stronger guarantees that materials used in highway and bridge construction are American-made.
Loopholes in buy-American requirements have allowed the use of foreign-made steel, iron and other materials in major U.S. construction projects, Casey said.
The Invest in American Jobs Act, co-sponsored by Casey in December, would eliminate loopholes and extend buy-American requirements to other infrastructure and transportation projects, Casey said. The legislation also would require public disclosure and comment on any proposed waivers.
"Since the 1930s we've had legislation that creates a standard of preference for steel, iron and other manufactured products made in America. This legislation would extend and further develop that made-in-America preference," Casey said.
Casey outlined the proposed legislation at the Bicentennial Tower on lower State Street. The nearby Dobbins Landing Bridge is being rebuilt over the Canal Basin with all American-made materials, but that's not always the case, Casey said.
Stronger requirements to use American-made materials will create new manufacturing jobs, Casey said. He cited a 2009 University of Massachusetts study that found that 100 percent reliance on domestic materials for infrastructure construction would increase manufacturing jobs by one-third.
About 509,000 Pennsylvanians, including some 11,000 in Erie County, are unemployed, according to the most recent jobless figures, released in June.
"This legislation is one way to get unemployment numbers down and job creation numbers up," Casey said.
Casey's Invest in American Jobs legislation was co-sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
Earlier Monday, Casey attended a campaign luncheon at the Maennerchor Club. The Scranton Democrat is running for a second six-year Senate term against Republican Tom Smith, of Armstrong County.