December 18, 2017

Top Transportation Democrats Push for Stronger Buy America Requirements, Request Copy of Buy America Report

December 18, 2017

The Honorable Wilbur Ross                                        The Honorable Mick Mulvaney                      

Secretary                                                                      Director                                                          

U.S. Department of Commerce                                   Office of Management and Budget                 

1401 Constitution Ave NW                                         725 17th Street NW                

Washington, DC 20230                                               Washington, DC 20503                                              

Dear Secretary Ross and Director Mulvaney:

We write to you to express our strong support for this Administration’s stated intent to bolster U.S. manufacturing and to create good, family-wage jobs in the United States.

We were pleased to see the President call for strict enforcement of domestic preference laws in an Executive Order (EO) issued on April 18, 2017, entitled “Presidential Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American”. In this EO, the President calls on the head of each agency to “scrupulously monitor, enforce, and comply with Buy American laws, to the extent they apply, and minimize the use of waivers.” We could not agree more.

We have long been proponents of strengthening Buy America and Buy American laws, to ensure that the funds that the Federal Government invests in transportation and infrastructure projects use iron, steel, and goods produced in the United States to the maximum extent possible. In the last two surface transportation reauthorization laws, Ranking Member Peter DeFazio and Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Democrats authored provisions to require a greater percentage of American-made components, to close loopholes in current law, to increase transparency in the waiver process, and to ensure that Buy America standards are implemented in a manner to maximize domestic content and manufacturing in highway, transit, and rail projects. Similarly, we strongly supported language to promote additional transparency in the sourcing of materials in the construction of the Nation’s civil works projects in the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-322, Title I), and were strong advocates for including American iron and steel protections in the implementation of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

The President’s EO specifically requires each Federal agency to assess: (1) implementation of and compliance with current Buy America and Buy American laws; (2) the use of waivers by agencies and their impact on domestic jobs and manufacturing; and (3) any actions agencies can take administratively to ensure that domestic content utilization is maximized. Agencies were to submit assessments to each of you by September 15, 2017.

In addition, the EO requires the Secretary of Commerce to submit a Buy America report to the President summarizing the assessments by agencies, and including “specific recommendations to strengthen implementation” of Buy America, Buy American, and domestic procurement policies and preferences. This report was due to the President by November 24, 2017.

The President separately called for the construction of new, retrofitted, repaired, or expanded pipelines with materials and equipment produced in the United States in a January 24, 2017 Presidential Memorandum. This Memorandum directs the Secretary of Commerce to develop a plan to require domestic sourcing of materials for pipeline construction. The Department of Commerce set a deadline to deliver a plan to the President by July 23, 2017.

As Congress prepares to work with the Administration on an infrastructure package, we welcome the opportunity to explore provisions to strengthen Buy America and Buy American laws. To inform our work, we ask that you share with the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure the assessments you have received and the reports you have submitted, or are preparing to submit, to the President pursuant to the EO and the Memorandum.

We look forward to working with you on this area of mutual interest, and of great importance to the economic future of our Nation. We would be happy to speak with you directly about this topic in greater detail. If your staff have any questions regarding this request, please have them contact Helena Zyblikewycz on the Committee Democratic staff at (202) 225-9989.

Thank you for your consideration.