December 01, 2011

Rahall Unveils Major Proposal to Create American Jobs

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was joined by Committee Members, labor leaders, and a U.S. manufacturer today to introduce legislation to create American jobs and revitalize American manufacturing through Federal transportation and infrastructure investments.

“We are here today because many Americans, still recovering from the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, are desperately seeking work,” said Rahall.  “The legislation we are introducing today will ensure that all future bridges and similar transportation and infrastructure projects financed by U.S. taxpayers will be stamped “Made in America,” crafted with American workmanship, and will create and sustain good-paying jobs in our local communities – not overseas.”

Congress has long recognized the job-creating benefits of Federal transportation investments.  To ensure maximum potential, Rahall said Congress needs to ensure that American companies and workers benefit from such investments.  Despite current statutory Buy America statutory requirements that require that all steel, iron, and manufactured goods used to construct Federal-aid Highway projects are produced in the United States, loopholes have allowed the manufacturing of major transportation projects to be sent abroad.  Democrats called on Republicans to include Rahall’s legislation in the long-term surface transportation reauthorization currently being crafted.

“The Republican leadership has said that the major jobs bill of this Congress will be a surface transportation bill. The question is where will they create the jobs? Will the jobs be created here at home, or abroad in China?  This Buy America bill will ensure U.S. tax dollars are spent here at home on products made by Americans and stamped with “Made in the U.S.A,” said U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR, top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.  “This is a challenge to the Republicans. Adopt our Buy America requirements as part of the surface reauthorization bill.”

In July of this year, workers for a Chinese state-owned company loaded four steel modules, weighing a combined 5,300 tons, onto a ship for a 22-day journey across the Pacific to be used as the final component of the State of California’s largest public works project in its history.  A total of 43,000 tons of steel for the $6.3 billion project replacing the 2.2-mile East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge will be stamped “Made in China,” but paid for by taxpayers.  This project employed 3,000 workers in China – jobs that should have gone to American workers.

“We are no longer buying just cheap trinkets from China – we are literally buying bridges and major transportation infrastructure, while outsourcing innovation and capabilities that could be fostered and strengthened in the U.S.,” said Rahall.  “At a time when more than 25 million Americans are unable to find jobs, are only working part-time, or have altogether given up hope of finding a job, it is appalling, offensive, and downright wrong to send our taxpayer dollars to China when they should be invested in U.S. companies here at home rebuilding America.  This legislation will put a stop to this practice, help turn our economy around, and start to rebuild a major sector of our economy.”

The “Invest in American Jobs Act of 2011” (H.R. 3533), strengthens Buy America requirements for investments in transportation and infrastructure to put Americans back to work. The bill ensures that all of the steel, iron, and manufactured goods used to construct these projects, which are financed by U.S. taxpayers, are produced in the United States.

“It is bad enough to see America sit on the sidelines as China, India, and our other international competitors leave us in the dust as they plow full speed ahead with massive infrastructure investments in their own countries,” said Rahall.  “But actively outsourcing manufacturing jobs that American companies and skilled American workers can and should be doing just goes too far.”

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 are produced in the United States;

· Applies Buy America requirements to other transportation and infrastructure investment, 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.

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 be applied in a manner that is consistent with United States obligations under international agreements.

“With this legislation, America can once again lead the world as we have done for so many decades.  When we work together, we can restore America’s strong and proud history in manufacturing,” said Rahall.  “We need to invest in American industries by developing the capabilities here, not investing taxpayer dollars to develop new capabilities in China and abroad.  We will strengthen Buy America provisions at every turn in the road for transportation projects because when we make it in America, more Americans can make it.”

A summary and section-by-section analysis of the legislation is available on the Committee Democrats’ website.

Letters of Support:

United Steelworkers (December 1, 2011)
Alliance for American Manufacturing (December 7, 2011)
National Steel Bridge Alliance (November 30, 2011)
International Brotherhood of Teamsters (December 6, 2011)
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (December 7, 2011)
BlueGreen Alliance (December 13, 2011)
McWane, Inc. (December 20, 2011)
Municipal Castings Association (January 20, 2012)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (January 23, 2012)
Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), The Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports (CPTI), National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA), Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA), Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA), United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) (January 27, 2012)
Nucor Corporation (December 15, 2011)