Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) recently introduced H.R. 613, the Airports, Highways, High-Speed Rail, Trains, and Transit: Make It In America Act (“Make It In America Act”). The legislation would make amendments to Buy America Act provisions of current law regarding various transportation sectors, including airports, highways, high-speed rail, Amtrak, buses, light rail, and heavy rail. The Make It In America Act is part of the Make It In America agenda and legislative initiative for Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives whose goal is to rebuild manufacturing in America.
Specifically, the Make It In America Act would eliminate certain types of waivers to Buy America Act requirements that otherwise mandate use of steel, iron, and manufactured goods that are produced in the United States.
Airports, Buses, Light Rail, and Heavy Rail
Under current law, waivers to Buy America Act requirements may be obtained in situations where the requirement to use only steel, iron, and manufactured goods produced in the United States is “inconsistent with the public interest” or the U.S.-origin steel or goods “are not produced in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or are not of a satisfactory quality.”
The Make It In America Act eliminates these waivers and instead would allow limited use of non-U.S. steel, iron, and manufactured goods provided that at least 60 percent of the components are produced in the United States for obligations made on or before December 31, 2011 and at least 80 percent of the components are produced in the United States for obligations made in the period from January 1, 2012, through December 31, 2012. This phase-out period would end completely on January 1, 2014, thus ending the potential for waivers completely at that time should the proposed bill be enacted.
Highways, Roadways, and High Speed Rail
The Make It In America Act eliminates most waivers available under current law and instead would allow use of non-U.S. steel and manufactured goods only where “including domestic material will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.”
The Make It In America Act eliminates all waivers available under current law that apply to Amtrak projects where the “articles, materials, or supplies bought” are priced at at least $1,000,000.
Prospects For Enactment
The prospects for action on Make It In America Act before the 2012 elections are uncertain, but it is clear that the proposed legislation will be a part of the blueprint for Congressional Democrats to revitalize American manufacturing for some time to come.