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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

House Democrats introduce 'Buy America' bill for transportation, infrastructure


Late last week, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and other House Democrats introduced the “Invest in American Jobs Act of 2011,” a bill they said would strengthen the “Buy America” requirements for transportation and infrastructure investments.

The legislation would ensure “that all of the steel, iron and manufactured goods used to construct these projects, which are financed by U.S. taxpayers, is produced in the United States,” according to a summary of the bill.

Specifically, the bill would:

•    strengthen Buy America requirements in rail, public transit, highway, bridge and aviation infrastructure and equipment to ensure that all steel, iron and manufactured goods used in the projects are produced in the United States;

•    apply 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 grants; and

•    require federal agencies to justify any proposed waiver of Buy America requirements.

The bill also would eliminate Amtrak’s exemption from Buy America requirements for capital projects that cost less than $1 million, and would eliminate a similar exemption for high-speed and intercity passenger-rail projects that cost less than $100,000, said U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) in a prepared statement. Brown, who described herself a “wholehearted supporter” of the legislation, is the ranking member on the House Railroad Subcommittee.

“I strongly believe that it is of utmost importance that Congress does everything possible to create and maintain well-paying jobs here in the United States,” Brown said.

The United Steelworkers (USW) also came out in support of the bill.

“We are in a jobs crisis and we need to use our taxpayer dollars wisely to create as many useful jobs as possible, including good manufacturing jobs that the American public will support as the best engine for economic growth,” said International Secretary-Treasurer of the USW Stan Johnson in a prepared statement.