Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Passes Portman, Brown ‘Buy America’ Provisions For Taxpayer-Funded Infrastructure Projects

Bipartisan Legislation Will Apply Buy America Rules to All Taxpayer-Funded Infrastructure and Public Works Projects

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that their bipartisan legislation – the Build America, Buy America Actto apply Buy America rules to all taxpayer-funded infrastructure and public works projects, has passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. 

Currently, Buy America rules have not been fully implemented with respect to all federal programs that provide grants for the construction of infrastructure. When Chinese- or Russian- made steel and other products are used instead of American products, it steals jobs from U.S. workers. 

Their legislation would implement Buy America rules across the board – ensuring that American taxpayer dollars are used to buy American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products for any federally funded infrastructure projects. Portman and Brown introduced the bill with Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Mike Braun (R-IN), and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) who is leading companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

“I’m proud to lead this legislation with Senator Brown and applaud the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for passing it today. When the government spends American taxpayer money on an infrastructure project, it’s common sense that the materials used in that project should be purchased from those same taxpayers making those materials in the United States. We have the world’s best workers making the best materials we need right here at home and I hope my colleagues will support this legislation when it comes before the full Senate,” said Senator Portman, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. 

“We cannot allow foreign companies to continue to undercut our domestic industries. Without Buy America rules, we are allowing manufacturing to go elsewhere at the expense of taxpayers,” said Senator Brown. “It’s simple: American tax dollars should go toward American-made projects that support American jobs. Period.” 

“The bottom line is, American infrastructure should be made with American materials,” said Senator Peters, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “I am pleased this legislation, which will strengthen American supply chain security and boost our competitiveness with nations like China, has advanced in the Senate and I will continue my efforts to ensure it is enacted into law.” 

Because Buy America rules have not been fully implemented for all federal infrastructure programs, some foreign materials can be used to construct many taxpayer-funded highways, roads, bridges, and water and energy infrastructure projects. Portman, Brown, Braun and Peters believe these products should instead be produced in the U.S. 

Take for example the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Buy America requirements. The Buy America requirements for that agency have been applied only to iron and steel used for structures. However, the FHWA has estimated that structural steel accounts for less than 5 percent of the costs of a typical highway project. That means the vast majority of materials used to construct federally assisted highways, roads, and bridges do not have to be produced in the U.S. 

The Build America, Buy America Act would fix these loopholes and ensures the Buy America statute actually results in the purchase of American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products for all federally funded infrastructure projects. 

The Alliance for American Manufacturing has endorsed this bill. 

 

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