As the U.S. Senate voted on components of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced Senate passage of an amendment he offered with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) that would ensure that American-made iron, steel, and manufactured goods are used in federally-funded water infrastructure projects whenever they are available and competitively priced. The amendment passed by a vote of 60 in favor, 36 against. The entire bill, with Brown's amendment, passed by a vote of 83-14 and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
"This is great news for Ohio workers and manufacturers like U.S. Steel, ArcelorMittal, Nucor, Cliffs Natural Resources, and McWane. When we invest in American infrastructure, we should also invest in American manufacturing," Brown said. "We know how to make things in this country and should use American tax payer dollars to bolster domestic manufacturing as much as possible."
For many years, Buy America provisions have established the basic principle that when we spend federal taxpayer dollars on public infrastructure projects, American businesses and workers should do the work. Backed by an open, competitive market-driven process, Buy America rules have provided the foundation for millions of miles of roads, bridges, light rail, and subways, and millions of good-paying jobs. The amendment builds upon an amendment Brown successfully offered to the 2012 Transportation Authorization bill that extends Buy America standards for roads, bridges, and rail. The amendment passed today will cover federally financed water infrastructure projects that will be financed through the Water Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act (WIFIA) program in WRDA.
This is the third amendment to WRDA Brown has successfully passed. Yesterday Brown applauded the Senate's passage of an amendment he introduced that could expedite water projects and ensure projects are eligible for federal construction funds upon completion of their U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) Chief of Engineer's Report and Senate approval. Without this amendment, projects would not be eligible to receive federal construction funds from USACE until the next WRDA authorization. Prior to the current water resources bill, the Senate last considered a WRDA bill in 2007.
Brown is a member of the Senate steel and manufacturing caucuses and has long fought to promote their industries in the United States--especially against foreign competitors.
Brown is the author of legislation to ensure that armor plate for America's military is truly "made in America," and in April announced a decision from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that restores a 35-year rule requiring that steel purchased by the U.S. military be 100 percent domestically produced. The rule, originally overturned by DoD in 2009, requires armor plate steel to be both melted and finished in the United States. Several Ohio companies, including Cleveland's ArcelorMittal and Cliffs Natural Resources, Parma's Graftech, and Marion's Nucor, are involved in the production of Armor plate.
The Currency Exchange and Oversight Reform Act, authored by Brown, represents the biggest bipartisan jobs bill--at no cost to U.S. taxpayers--passed by the Senate in 2011. Brown plans on reintroducing the bill later this month. The legislation would allow the U.S. government to stand up for American jobs when China cheats by manipulating its currency to give its exports an unfair advantage.