On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I write to express our support for the Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 4348 – Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 – offered by Rep. Nick Rahall (WV), and urge you to vote for this Motion.
This Motion to Instruct directs conferees to adopt language that would close loopholes and increase the transparency of Buy America laws. This language was included in the Senate-passed transportation reauthorization (MAP-21), and enjoys broad bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress.
Specifically, the Motion instructs conferees to adopt provisions which would bring needed transparency to Buy America laws by requiring federal agencies to post any proposed waiver online and provide the American public and businesses an opportunity to comment prior to taking effect. Agencies would also be required to publish annual reports which include justifications for waivers and the monetary value of the waivers issued. This would build on and codify successful policies already in place at FHWA and apply them to other DOT agencies, creating a more accountable waiver process and help identify areas where we can strengthen our domestic manufacturing sector. The Motion also supports a provision which would close a loophole that has allowed state and local governments to bypass Buy America requirements by segmenting projects that receive federal funds.
America’s transportation infrastructure is in dire need of repair, investment and modernization. Strong Buy America requirements are critical to ensuring that federal investments in our transportation system are leveraged to achieve the greatest possible economic impact and job growth. Not only will this put more Americans to work faster, it will ensure that we have a robust manufacturing sector able to supply the products needed by private and public transportation employers for years to come. I urge you to vote for this Motion to Instruct, and help ensure that our Buy America laws are strong, transparent and accountable.