Thursday, August 2, 2012

Highway Trust Fund Bill Tightens “Buy American” Requirements

In a small nod in the direction of workers at American steel mills and fabricators, and at other businesses manufacturing products for road building and mass transit use, Congress tightened up “buy American” requirements on projects partly paid for with federal tax dollars. The new bill eliminates one loophole in the buy American laws, which allowed use of foreign produced steel and manufactured products on portions of construction if a major project was split into multiple contracts or awarded in phases. Under the MAP-21 bill extending the Highway Trust Fund for 27 months, if any one of the split up contracts has federal money in it, all of the related products must also abide by the buy American rules.

And the new legislation also requires mass transit projects to publish a detailed explanation, with a public comment period, before waiving buy American rules for mass transit construction contracts. In past years, this waiver publication and comment requirement only applied to highway construction. Now, citizens will be able to know ahead of contract bidding why local transit officials find it necessary to use foreign made materials and products in their construction jobs. Seems like Congress is at long last wising up to the need to keep taxpayer funded job creation on American shores.

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