WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) are leading the fight to restore a ‘Buy America’ provision in the Water Resources Development (WRDA) Act that would require the use of American-made iron and steel products in infrastructure projects. The Buy America rule already passed in the Senate version of the bill with broad bipartisan support. But it has been pulled from the compromise package reached between leaders in the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.
“American tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on Chinese steel,” Brown said. “American infrastructure should be built with American products that support American jobs. Period.”
“We must ensure that tax dollars will continue to be invested in America, maximizing American jobs,” said Portman. “Provisions like this one have already increased production, jobs, and capital investment in the steel industry, and it is critical that we continue policies that simultaneously improve our infrastructure and our economy.”
The Buy America provision of the bill would require American-made steel and iron be used in infrastructure projects funded by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). In a letter to Senate and House leaders sent today and signed by 23 of Brown and Portman’s colleagues, the Senators told leaders to put the provision back into the final bill to support U.S. steel and iron workers and manufacturers.
The letter was also signed by U.S. Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Gary Peters (D-MI).
Full text is available below.
December 2, 2016
The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader Democratic Leader
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Paul Ryan The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the Democratic Leader
House of Representatives House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515 Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Democratic Leader Reid, Speaker Ryan, and Democratic Leader Pelosi:
We write to express our concern that an important Buy America provision for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) has been struck from the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) conference report to be considered by the House and Senate. This provision (Section 7117 of S. 2848) was approved by the Senate with broad bipartisan support, and we urge you to ensure that it is included in the final WRDA bill.
Section 7117 of the Senate bill would codify the Buy America procurement preference for American-made iron and steel products that has been applied to the DWSRF for many years through annual appropriations to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The language would ensure that the DWSRF is subject to the same Buy America policies permanently applied to the EPA’s other federal-aid water infrastructure spending programs, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Program.
Buy America is an important job-creating provision. If subject to the Buy America provisions, DWSRF-funded infrastructure projects will be required to use American iron and steel. As a result, companies will have incentives to invest in domestic manufacturing facilities, and U.S. taxpayer dollars will support American manufacturers.
Removing the Buy America provisions from the DWSRF will have the opposite effect. Without domestic content requirements, foreign companies will reap the advantages of U.S. taxpayer spending at the expense of taxpaying U.S. iron and steel producers and workers across the country. An opportunity to support and grow U.S. manufacturers will be squandered.
The American people spoke clearly in this past election that they want leaders who fight for the working class and who advance policies that create more jobs and grow the U.S. manufacturing sector. We urge you to heed their voices in the WRDA negotiations and ensure the DWSRF Buy America provisions are incorporated in the final bill.