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TTD Supports Strong Buy America Standards for Highway Construction

By Admin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After years of advocacy, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) announced today that she successfully pushed the Biden administration to implement stronger Buy America standards for federally funded highway projects to support domestic manufacturing and create good-paying jobs. Senator Baldwin had long called for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to end the 40-year waiver that allows the federal government to skirt Buy America rules when constructing highways. Today, the FHWA administration announced that it is ending the outdated waiver and putting in its place stronger Buy America standards that support American manufacturing.

“This has always been a straightforward idea to me: when we use taxpayer dollars to build things, we better be using American products and supporting American businesses,” said Senator Baldwin. “I have long been pushing the Biden administration to make this change to ensure that when we rebuild our roads, we Buy America, and I am proud to be bringing home this victory for Wisconsin to create good-paying jobs, support our manufacturers, and grow our economy.”

Senator Baldwin has led the charge in advocating for stronger Buy American standards to prioritize American workers and products when U.S. taxpayer dollars are used. In May of 2023, Senator Baldwin called on FHWA Administrator Bhatt to end its 40-year Buy America waiver and “begin the long overdue process of developing FHWA’s guidelines for the purchase of American-made manufactured products in Federal-aid highway projects.”

In January 2021, Senator Baldwin pushed Secretary Buttigieg at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee to commit to changing or rescinding the blanket waiver that has made foreign manufactured products eligible for FHWA projects.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide approximately $350 billion for Federal highway programs over a five-year period. Based on formula funding alone, Wisconsin would expect to receive approximately $5.4 billion over five years in for highways and bridges.

Senator Baldwin successfully included key provisions of her Made in America Act and Build America, Buy America Act in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to boost the use of American-made goods in infrastructure projects, including ensuring that this 40-year old waiver be reviewed. Combined, these two provisions will ensure that many common construction materials, like iron, steel, plastic, concrete, glass, and others, used in construction products are from the United States when rebuilding many parts of our infrastructure.

“Today’s announcement by the Federal Highway Administration is a massive breakthrough on Buy America policy, and we have Senator Baldwin to thank for tirelessly fighting to give America’s workers the first shot at supplying our infrastructure projects with manufactured products made in Wisconsin and throughout in the United States,” said Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul. “Senator Baldwin fought to extend Buy America to manufactured products across all departments in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. But the work didn’t stop there, as the Senator directly pressed Secretary Buttigieg at a subsequent hearing to end the 1983 waiver. Today’s announcement is a clear result of those actions. As we review the details of the FHWA announcement, we are glad to have the leadership of Senator Baldwin.”

“As America’s largest transportation labor federation, representing workers in construction and manufacturing who are directly impacted by Buy America policies, we are glad to see this proposed rule to end the 40-year-old blanket waiver for manufactured products. Simply put, the waiver has long outlived its usefulness and does not support the Biden Administration’s Made in America policies. While we applaud today’s progress, we know that the devil is often in the details. We look forward to seeing the final rule and will continue to push for the strongest possible Buy America federal standards,” said Greg Regan, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

“Loopholes in Buy America surrounding manufactured products have for decades undercut domestic workers and industries,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Dave McCall. “Our union appreciates Sen. Baldwin’s tireless work on behalf of working families and her efforts to regrow America’s manufacturing base, both of which have been instrumental in advancing Buy America policy, and we are eager to review the details of the current proposed rulemaking regarding the use of general waivers.”