Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, 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 Nick Rahall, and is supported by a number of Labor organizations and domestic manufacturing companies.
"We have 70,000 structurally deficient bridges in this country, an infrastructure rated D by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and construction workers still suffering from the lasting effects of the Great Recession that began in 2007. In short, we have work that needs doing and workers ready to do it," said Congressman John Garamendi, the Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. "By strengthening Buy America requirements, we can create good middle-class jobs. For instance, the Recovery Act required that transportation projects are produced domestically, and as a result, a locomotive construction factory is employing workers in Sacramento, California. When we make it in America, Americans will make it once again."
In the last session of Congress, Garamendi authored similar Buy American legislation to manufacture transportation and clean energy systems in America.
"In just a few months time, one of the largest publically supported infrastructure projects in the country is scheduled to be completed with the opening of the $6.3 billion East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge," said Transportation Committee Ranking Member Rahall. "But instead of steel cast in the Alleghenies or roadbed segments assembled in Alameda, cars and trucks using the bridge will be driving over 43,000 tons of steel imported from China which supported 3,000 Chinese jobs and was financed by U.S. taxpayers."
The Invest in American Jobs Act of 2013 which Transportation Committee Ranking Member Rahall, Garamendi, and the other five Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Ranking Members are introducing today 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 is produced in the United States;
Increases domestic content requirements for public transit rolling stock and Federally-procured aviation facilities and equipment from 60 percent under current law to 100 percent 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; and
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.
Existing Buy America law loopholes needlessly limit the job-creation potential of these sizable Federal investments. A recent study by Northwestern University revealed that stronger Buy America requirements for buses and rolling stock alone stand to support nearly 13,000 additional American jobs.
The bill allows Federal agencies to waive Buy America requirements if the Secretary or the Administrator of the Department or agency, as appropriate, finds that applying the Buy America requirements would be inconsistent with the public interest; the steel, iron, or manufactured goods is not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities or to a satisfactory quality; or the use of steel, iron, and manufactured goods produced in the United States for the project will increase the total cost of the project by more than 25 percent. The bill also requires that Buy America requirements are applied in a manner that is consistent with United States obligations under international agreements.