With Republicans in the House failing to produce any jobs bills, Democrats in the minority have decided to propose their own initiatives. This week’s episode, season 2 episode 12, focuses on one of those proposals, H.R. 613, the Airports, Highways, High-Speed Rail, Trains, and Transit: Make it in America Act, sponsored by Representative John Garamendi.
What this proposal does, is ensure that projects being funded by tax dollars are purchasing materials made in the US. After their passage of H.R. 3, Republicans in the House are going to have to explain why they find it morally acceptable to spend tax dollars on foreign-made products while so many Americans are out of work and our manufacturing jobs are steadily moving overseas.
90 Second Summaries: Season 2, Episode 12
H.R. 613: Airports, Highways, High-Speed Rail, Trains, and Transit:
Make it in America Act
Sponsor: Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA10)
Click here to download this summary (pdf)
Cosponsors: 7 (6 Democrats, 1 Republican). Full list at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/…
Senate Companion: None as of 5/4/11.
Status: Assigned to Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. No action scheduled. The bill has been included in House Democrats’ “Make It In America” agenda, released 5/4/11. May be included in a future surface transportation reauthorization bill.
Purpose: With the U.S. facing a jobs crisis and a domestic manufacturing sector mired in long-term decline, it is widely acknowledged that a turnaround requires decisive government action. At a minimum, federally funded infrastructure projects should create manufacturing jobs in America to the greatest extent possible. Along these lines, current federal rules require major federally-backed airport, highway, rail and bus projects to use goods produced in the United States, but these requirements contain a number of waivers and loopholes. H.R. 613 is designed to expand upon those requirements.
Summary: This legislation closes many of the waivers for all of these project types (airports, highways and roadways, high speed rail, Amtrak, buses and other rail), and takes other steps to ensure the requirements are reflected in reality. Specifically, it:
• Eliminates the waivers for instances when:
– Applying the requirements would be inconsistent with the public interest;
– The needed goods are not produced domestically in sufficient quantity or quality;
– In Amtrak projects, if the materials cannot be obtained in a reasonable amount of time.
• For highways, roadways and high-speed rail, retains the waiver for instances where relying on domestic materials would increase the overall cost by over 25%.
• For airports, buses and rail projects, phases the percentage cost of the components that must be domestic up from 60% to 100% over two years (the other project types do not specify a percentage).
This measure is one of a number of “Buy American” provisions Democrats are advancing, including H.R. 487 (renewable energy, Rep. Garamendi), H.R. 1684 (water infrastructure, Rep. Sutton), H.R. 679 (homeland security items, Rep. Kissell), and H.R. 1344 (American flags, Rep. Braley).
Supporters: Most Democrats and some Republicans, Alliance for American Manufacturing, labor and allied groups, etc.
• Supporters view this and similar measures as a crucial first step to getting American manufacturing back on track. They believe it is unconscionable for taxpayer dollars dedicated to infrastructure projects to be awarded to foreign companies when so many Americans are out of work.
Opponents: Foreign-based manufacturers and multinational corporations, Chamber of Commerce, etc.
• Opponents see such “Buy American” requirements as counterproductive. They believe these provisions stunt job creation, increase costs, delay production, and lead to retaliation by foreign governments.
Full bill text: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h112-613
Official CRS summary: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-613&tab=summary
Rep. Garamendi fact sheet: http://garamendi.house.gov/legislation/makeitinamerica.shtml
Summary of Democrats’ “Make it in America” agenda: http://www.democraticwhip.gov/sites/default/files/MIIARolloutLegislation0504111.pdf
Alliance for American Manufacturing summary of “Buy America” benefits: http://www.americanmanufacturing.org/category/issues/jobs-and-economy/buy-america
Chamber of Commerce press release in opposition to “Buy American” provisions in 2010 jobs bill: http://bit.ly/k1h16g
ABC News story on partisan criticisms over lack of job creation: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/house-democrats-hammer-republicans-jobs-issue/story?id=13523496