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July 6, 2022 12:50 PM, EDT

Stakeholders to White House: Extend ‘Buy America’ Rules Waiver

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Nearly 50 transportation groups are asking the Biden administration to extend a waiver for certain requirements for products and materials associated with infrastructure construction projects.

The groups, including American Trucking Associations, have argued for an extension of a current waiver to federal Build America Buy America requirements. Citing inflation and other economic dynamics, the stakeholders suggested such federal requirements potentially would affect their access to essential materials during the construction process.

“Material price increases have doubled or even tripled in some cases. Lead times for procurement and delivery of many of these materials has dramatically increased as well. And prospects for the rest of the year are worse. As a result, many infrastructure projects across the country face the risk of significant delay or a reduction in scope,” the groups wrote in June to Mitch Landrieu, senior adviser to President Joe Biden. Landrieu is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, commonly referred to as the bipartisan infrastructure law.

Landrieu

“Rushing through this process could further drive inflation and result in significant delays to projects that will facilitate the enhanced movement of people and goods that, in turn, will help improve the nation’s constrained supply chain,” they added.

The groups propose the U.S. Department of Transportation conduct an analysis of domestic manufacturing capabilities that would include input from the public. They also called on USDOT to provide the public as well as the private sectors sufficient time to adjust to new Build America Buy America requirements. Approved in the IIJA, the Build America Buy America provisions were waived for six months by USDOT.

Joining ATA in the letter to Landrieu were the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of Port Authorities, the American Bus Association, the American Concrete Pavement Association, the American Highway Users Alliance, the American Public Transportation Association and the Association of American Railroads.

Also Signing On

Other stakeholders joining American Trucking Associations in a letter sent to Mitch Landrieu: 

• American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

• U.S. Chamber of Commerce

• American Association of Port Authorities

•  American Bus Association

• American Concrete Pavement Association

• American Highway Users Alliance

• American Public Transportation Association

• Association of American Railroads.

In May, USDOT announced a 180-day waiver for “Buy America” rules. In its announcement for the Federal Register, the department acknowledged “stakeholders regarding concerns about the implementation of Buy America requirements to construction materials, specifically how recipients of federal funds will need to require contractors to source Buy America compliant construction materials and how industry will certify and demonstrate compliance.

“The department recognizes both the importance of ensuring Buy America compliant construction materials and the need to implement the requirement in a way that is not overly burdensome.”

In explaining the guidance in April, Celeste Drake, the White House’s Made in America director, said, “Buy America implementation will create an opportunity for a virtuous cycle in which infrastructure investment, critical supply chain efforts, and policies that support domestic manufacturing align and are self-reinforcing.”

Infrastructure Shareholders Letter to Mitch Landrieu by Transport Topics on Scribd

She added: “The guidance provides preliminary direction to agencies for determining when construction materials are ‘Made in America,’ so that projects funded in the near future can boost the use of these important Made in America goods while the administration seeks further input from affected stakeholders to develop more lasting standards.”

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