March 05, 2013

Rahall Introduces Legislation to Ensure American Infrastructure Supports American Jobs

Rahall Introduces Legislation to Ensure American Infrastructure Supports American Jobs
Bill Would Require American Materials Used in All Federally Funded Infrastructure Projects

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall, top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today was joined by Committee Members in introducing legislation to ensure that 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 supported by a number of Labor organizations and domestic manufacturing companies. 

“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 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.” 

“Committee Democrats insisted on closing the loopholes in our ‘Buy America’ laws to prevent the continuation of this outrageous and economically harmful practice of outsourcing our federal highway and transit construction in last year’s surface transportation bill.  Unfortunately, many provisions we pushed for that would have ensured even stronger Buy America requirements for all surface transportation infrastructure investments were left on the cutting-room floor during the conference process.  Today we are here to finish the job and ensure that all taxpayer funded infrastructure investments support American jobs.”

The Invest in American Jobs Act which Rahall and all six 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. 

 “When Americans are riding transit cars around the country they should be supporting – not trampling on - American jobs, and this bill will fix that,” said Rahall.  “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.  This should be inexcusable in any instance, but it is unconscionable when millions of Americans are seeking employment.  It is for these reasons that we will be aggressively pushing this legislation in our Committee this year.”

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.

A summary and section-by-section analysis of the legislation is available on the Committee Democrats’ website as well as letters in support of the Invest in American Jobs Act of 2013. Organizations supporting the Invest in American Jobs Act of 2013 include:

Letters of Support:

Alliance for American Manufacturing (February 28, 2013)

American Foundry Society (March 3, 2013)

BlueGreen Alliance (February 25, 2013)

BlueGreen Alliance Supplemental

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (March 1, 2013)

International Brotherhood of Teamsters (February 26, 2013)

McWane, Inc. (February 28, 2013)

Municipal Castings Association (March 1, 2013)

National Steel Bridge Alliance (March 1, 2013)

Nucor (February 28, 2013)

Oregon Iron Works (February 27, 2013)

Steel Manufacturers Association (March 1, 2013)

Transportation Trades Department (March 1, 2013)

United Steelworkers (February 21, 2013)

United Street Car