May 18, 2012

Rahall Fights to Create American Transportation Jobs

Washington, D.C. – Continuing his efforts to protect and grow American jobs, U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, last night moved to strengthen “Buy America” requirements in long-term surface transportation legislation being considered by a House-Senate conference committee. Today, the House voted 245 to 169 to adopt Rahall’s effort to close loopholes in current law that are being exploited to send transportation jobs to America’s foreign competitors.

“American workers are still struggling to find work as our economy slowly recovers from the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.  I have pleaded again and again that we must enact a well-funded, long-term surface transportation bill immediately and not let another construction season dwindle while Congress dawdles,” said Rahall.  “We must find common ground, and find it fast.  As part of that effort, one area where I hope that we can all agree is ensuring that the investments we make with this bill will be spent on projects that are stamped ‘Made in America’.”

The Senate earlier this year passed a bipartisan two-year reauthorization of our Nation’s highways, transit, and highway safety investments.  Unable to pass its own long-term surface transportation bill, the House chose to pass a mere three-month extension of current law that would provide a vehicle for the House and Senate to meet in conference committee.

The House voted to approve Rahall’s Motion to Instruct Conferees, which directs Members of the conference committee to seize the opportunity to create more American jobs and to revive American manufacturing by closing gaping loopholes in Buy America laws.

“We have the capability, the capacity, and the workers ready to get the job done here at home.  Unfortunately, we are currently giving these contracts – and these high-skill jobs – away to foreign manufacturers and workers,” said Rahall.  “It is downright ridiculous that we are sending American taxpayer dollars overseas to foreign manufacturers -- including foreign steelmakers -- when we should be investing in U.S. manufacturers, building the capacity here at home and creating American jobs.  We have a responsibility to U.S. taxpayers to ensure that the investments we make in our Nation’s transportation infrastructure truly help rebuild America – our infrastructure, our companies, and our people.”

Rahall last year introduced bipartisan legislation – H.R. 3533, the “Invest in American Jobs Act of 2011” – to create American jobs by eliminating loopholes in Buy America requirements.  Rahall’s bill, major elements of which were incorporated by the Senate in its surface transportation bill, would help ensure that all steel, iron, and manufactured goods used to construct highway, transit, and rail projects are produced in the United States.  By closing certain loopholes, these provisions will make certain that projects financed by U.S. taxpayers will be crafted with American workmanship, and will create and sustain good-paying jobs in our local communities – not outsourced overseas.

Rahall’s Motion to Instruct directs conferees to adopt several Senate provisions to strengthen Buy America requirements.  Specifically, these provisions:

  • prohibit segmentation of highway, transit, and Amtrak projects;
  • require opportunities for public notice and comment on waiver requests and publication in the Federal Register before waivers take effect;
  • require review of longstanding waivers for highway and rail projects; and
  • require an annual report on waivers granted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.