Sen. Brown Introduces Bill that Would Strengthen Buy America Provisions to Ensure Taxpayer Dollars are Spent Supporting U.S. Workers

Brown’s Legislation Would Ensure Federal Transportation Department and Other Infrastructure Projects Use Taxpayer Dollars Supporting American Workers and Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced his introduction of the Invest in American Jobs Act, legislation which would help ensure taxpayer dollars used in federal infrastructure projects support U.S. workers and businesses. Specifically, Brown’s bill would improve existing Buy America preferences for Department of Transportation (DOT) projects and ensure consistent coverage across federal infrastructure programs. 

“The U.S. government must take every opportunity to help improve our economy and create jobs for Americans,” Brown said. “My legislation would ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent supporting American workers and businesses in infrastructure projects. Doing so would help rebuild our infrastructure while supporting U.S. industries and the jobs they support.”

By closing Buy America loopholes, Brown’s legislation would boost domestic manufacturing and create jobs in the United States. Specifically, the Invest in American Jobs Act would:

  • Strengthen Buy America: The bill would improve Buy America preferences for federal highway, public transportation, rail grants, rail loans, Amtrak, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to maximize the use of domestic steel, iron, and manufactured goods in infrastructure projects. Existing preferences for public transportation and FAA projects would be increased from 60 percent domestic content to 100 percent over five years and project value exemptions would be removed for Amtrak and passenger rail.
  • Close Loopholes: The bill would prevent segmentation of projects to circumvent Buy America standards.  It would also improve the waiver request and review process by requiring public notice and comment for each waiver, as well as a published justification for why a waiver was issued. 
  • Improve Transparency: The bill would require each DOT agency to review the nationwide waivers they have issued, accepting public comments during the review process. It would also require DOT to publish an annual Buy America report that identifies all waivers that were issued and the value of each of the waivers. 
  • Consistent Buy America Coverage: The bill would apply Buy America to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, Economic Development Administration projects, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mitigation grants, and bridges over navigable waters funded under the Truman-Hobbs Act.

Brown is a member of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, currently Vice-Chair of the Senate Auto Caucus, and was recently named incoming Chair of the Senate Steel Caucus. Described as “Congress’ leading proponent of American Manufacturing,” Brown continues his fight to strengthen Buy America provisions.

In June, Brown’s legislation, the All-American Flag Act, moved one step closer to becoming law. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs passed Brown’s bill which would require the federal government to only buy flags that are American-made. The Federal government is currently required to purchase flags made from only 50 percent American-made materials. The All-American Flag Act would require the government to buy flags that are produced entirely with American-made materials.

Last month, the President signed into law a critical water infrastructure bill that includes an amendment Brown introduced that would enforce Buy America provisions and support domestic manufacturers. Brown introduced, and helped pass, an amendment to the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) that would ensure American-made iron and steel are used in federally-funded water infrastructure projects when available and competitively priced. The amendment benefits Ohio manufacturers like Clow Water Systems in Coshocton and Nucor Steel in Marion.

Brown also is the author of the Wear American Act. Current law only requires federal government agencies to purchase textile products that are 50 percent American-made. Brown’s bill, however, would require all textile products purchased by federal agencies to be made in the United States. This would create domestic jobs and potentially benefit local businesses.

 

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