Sherrod Brown Urges Federal Government To Get The Details Right Around Buy America Laws.

By Matthew McMullan
Apr 14 2022 |
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaks at a 2014 rally in support of steel industry jobs in Lorain, Ohio. | AAM photo

Last year’s infrastructure law passed with serious domestic procurement rules attached. Now it’s time to make sure they’re followed correctly.

Last year Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It was a $1.2 trillion, bipartisan infrastructure bill that made a serious investment in our public highways, bridges, ports, broadband, and the long-term health of our economy.

And with it passed strong Buy America rules. They’ll make sure all of the iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in federally funded infrastructure projects, like those this bill will be funding, will be American-made whenever possible.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing endorsed those rules – called the Build America, Buy America Act – when they were first introduced. We were thrilled to see them pass as provisions in the final infrastructure legislation.  

Now, as the federal government gears up to get these infrastructure projects underway, we want to see Build America, Buy America followed as intended. The new rules’ implementation deadline is coming up next month and many federal agencies – which are required to guarantee they’re following the letter of our on-the-books domestic procurement laws by detailing how they’re following them – are already behind on their reporting requirements.  

It’s been too easy over the years to pick loopholes in our domestic procurement laws, and they haven’t been administered evenly. Making sure they’re being fully implemented is precisely what the recently passed Buy America provisions are meant to do.

So Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – one of the authors of Build America, Buy America – has weighed in with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to make sure that no corners are cut as the government gets its compliance in line.

OMB, an executive branch office responsible for making sure the federal government is observing presidential policies, is expected to release guidance soon on how federal agencies should comply with Build America, Buy America’s rules. In a letter, Sen. Brown pointed to the legitimately gargantuan level of infrastructure investment funding that has been made available by Congress and urged OMB to seize the moment:

With the specific requirements of this law and the historic levels of funding for infrastructure investment made available by Congress, this administration has an unparalleled opportunity to marshal the resources of the federal government to prioritize domestic production and incentivize American companies to produce infrastructure inputs here in the United States. This opportunity should jumpstart an all-of- government approach and coordinated strategy to increase American production and manufacturing in a way that has lasting effects for our economy.

Well said. Get this done the right way and it will be a significant boost to American manufacturing and the jobs it supports. We’ll be watching as the infrastructure spending and its attached Buy America rules roll out.