Massive Breakthrough for Buy America as FHWA Proposes Ending 40-Year Waiver: AAM Statement

Tags Buy America

Washington, D.C. — The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) proposed a rule on Thursday to end its blanket waiver of Buy America requirements for manufactured products. The waiver has been in place for more than 40 years. 

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul said: 

“This is a massive breakthrough for Buy America policy, putting an end to an egregious policy mistake put in place more than four decades ago and perpetuated by both Republican and Democratic administrations.

“For 40 years, the United States threw away the opportunity to maximize the return on taxpayer-funded infrastructure investments with stronger domestic supply chains and more jobs. Instead, this overly broad waiver handed our foreign competitors a huge advantage, sending taxpayer dollars offshore to subsidize polluting factories with substandard working conditions.

“But thanks to the persistence of our champions on Capitol Hill and the collective voice of thousands of Americans who called for an end to the FHWA’s blanket waiver, this damaging policy mistake is on track to being corrected. We know that Buy America works, as similar domestic content requirements on electric vehicle chargers have already driven significant U.S. investment in that industry. 

“We look forward to reviewing the details of the proposal and working with the FHWA and other stakeholders to ensure that Buy America provisions are fully implemented. Critical to this effort will be implementing policies that generate strong market signals for U.S. factory investments through the supply chain, including upstream materials and components. Longstanding Buy America policies applied to iron and steel must be strengthened, not eroded, through implementation. 

“America’s factory workers and manufacturers stand ready to build our Made in America future.”


The FHWA’s general waiver has been in effect since 1983 despite directives in both the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the 1982 Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) requiring coverage of manufactured products. But in 1983, the FHWA inexplicably “determined that Congress had not intended to cover all manufactured products” even though Section 165 of the 1982 STAA explicitly required the application of Buy America procurement preferences to “manufactured products.” 

Nearly 9,000 messages were sent to the Department of Transportation calling on the agency to end the FHWA’s blanket Buy America waiver during a comment period.  Read AAM’s comments on the FHWA’s 2023 review of its general applicability waiver of Buy America requirements for manufactured products here.