Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly (IN-02) and Congressman Peter J. Visclosky (IN-01) sent a letter to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to express support for Vehicle Production Group LLC's (VPG) request that the administration rescind the "Buy America" waiver for minivans and minivan chassis instituted in June 2010. Under the waiver, FTA funds are allowed to be used in purchasing minivans whose final assembly is completed outside of the United States. If the waiver is rescinded, FTA funds would be available to purchase only from American manufacturers such as VPG, which assembles their vehicles in Mishawaka.
"I strongly support the "Buy America' program and making sure American tax dollars are going to American manufacturers. The FTA's waiver was only meant to be in place until an American-made product was made available. I'm pleased that VPG's product meets all "Buy America' requirements and gives federal, state, and local governments an American-made choice when building their handicap-accessible fleets," said Donnelly. "My first priority is making sure that every Hoosier who wants a job has a job, and the success of manufacturers such as VPG helps reach that goal. I hope the FTA will rescind this waiver for minivans and minivan chassis and support American manufacturers."
Donnelly has a strong history of support for American manufacturers. This year, Donnelly has hosted a series of events called "Leveling the Playing Field" to discuss how better to help Hoosier businesses and workers compete in the global economy.
The full text of the letter sent by Donnelly and Visclosky is below.
To Whom It May Concern:
We write today in support of the Vehicle Production Group LLC's (VPG) request that the Federal Transit Administration rescind the "Buy America" waiver, published in Federal Register in June 2010, for minivans and minivan chassis [FTA-2012-0029]. This waiver has allowed FTA funds to be utilized to purchase minivans whose final assembly is completed outside of the United States for later conversion to handicap accessibility. The waiver was only to be in place until a Buy America product was made available.
We support the intent of the "Buy America" program and its goal of ensuring that U.S. taxpayer dollars are used to purchase products that have at least 60% of their content manufactured, and final assembly completed, in the United States. This helps support American industries and American workers. The MV-1, produced by the VPG, satisfies the "Buy America" goal while creating a price competitive product which allows for universal access. In addition, it provides an optional factory-direct compressed natural gas (CNG) powertrain, allowing American manufacturers to be competitive in new and evolving technologies.
The MV-1 is a wheelchair-accessible factory-produced vehicle assembled in Mishawaka, Indiana, which meets or exceeds all "Buy America" qualifications for Federal funding. The MV-1 program currently supports more than 900 jobs, including employees, suppliers, retailers and service personnel in the U.S. The quality controls implemented at the Mishawaka facility where the United Auto Workers (UAW) build the vehicle are outstanding and ensure a dependable and consistent workforce. Currently, the MV-1 is distributed through 150 points of distribution throughout the United States.
Therefore, we request that you proceed promptly with rescinding the "Buy America" waiver and appreciate your consideration of VPG's request.
Congressman Joe Donnelly
Congressman Peter J. Visclosky