In November 2021, President Biden’s promise to enact historic infrastructure investment legislation became a reality when the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) became law. The $1.2 trillion bill was precisely the scale of investment that is long overdue in this country.
In addition to directing record levels of investment in infrastructure, the BIL also enshrined into law many of transportation labor’s key priorities, including strengthened worker protections that support high wages and safe jobs, and powerful domestic content requirements that now must be implemented.
As the Administration rolls out federal infrastructure grants it must continue to implement and vigorously enforce the Build America, Buy America (BABA) provisions in the BIL and go further to close all Buy America loopholes for existing and newly authorized grants. The BIL presents a historic opportunity for federal agencies to carry out the vision of President Biden, who declared in an Executive Order last year: “It is the policy of my Administration that the United States Government should, consistent with applicable law, use terms and conditions of Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements to maximize the use of goods, products, and materials produced in, and services offered in, the United States. The United States Government should, whenever possible, procure goods, products, materials, and services from sources that will help American businesses compete in strategic industries and help America’s workers thrive.”
Now, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) must use its authority to leverage public investments that boost America’s domestic supply chains and create good-paying jobs. We call on the U.S. Department of Transportation to attach unambiguous Made in America requirements to all federal infrastructure grants to fully comply with the new Build America, Buy America (BABA) provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and President Biden’s Executive Order on domestic manufacturing. The requirements should make it clear that taxpayer-funded infrastructure will maximize new investments by employing U.S. domestic labor consistent with the highest labor standards. Further, there must be a high threshold for the issuance of waivers or use of new loopholes that narrow Buy America coverage. For too long, waivers and loopholes have been overused – often in defiance of federal laws – and have stifled investments in U.S. domestic capacity and good jobs.
We cannot kick the can down the road when it comes to strengthening our domestic manufacturing and production capacity. We urge federal departments and agencies to capture this moment of historic infrastructure investment with development of effective and transparent plans that fully implement BABA policies in the BIL and live up to the aggressive directives of the President.
Policy Statement No. F22-04
Adopted November 10, 2022