Brown, Portman Announce Bipartisan ‘Build America Buy America Act’ for Taxpayer-Funded Infrastructure Projects is Signed into Law

New Law will Apply Strong Buy America Rules to All Taxpayer-Funded Infrastructure and Public Works Projects

WASHINGTON, DC – November 15, 2021 – U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) today announced that their bipartisan bill, the Build America, Buy America Acthas been signed into law by President Biden. The Senators have been pushing for this legislation since 2017 and reintroduced it earlier this year. They fought and successfully included this legislation in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate in August and in the version that passed the House of Representatives earlier this month.

Historically, Buy America rules have not been fully implemented with respect to all federal programs that provide grants for the construction of infrastructure. In the past, projects could undermine job creation for U.S. workers and unions by turning to the lowest bidding Chinese or Russian steel, made cheaply with lower labor standards and more environmental pollution. The final infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will now implement Buy America rules across the board – ensuring that American taxpayer dollars are used to purchase American-made products for all federally funded infrastructure projects – closing loopholes and securing a major investment in American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products.

“Today, alongside President Biden, we’re implementing the strongest Buy America provisions ever. It’s simple: American tax dollars will support American products made by American workers – not their foreign competition,” said Senator Brown. “With these strong Buy America provisions secured, we’re going to create good-paying jobs throughout the entire Ohio supply chain, rebuilding our roads, bridges, broadband networkers, and water and sewer infrastructure – and that will help Ohio communities of all sizes, all over the state, thrive and grow.”

“I’m pleased that our bipartisan Build America, Buy America legislation has been signed into law as a part of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act because we must ensure that the coming infrastructure projects across America use American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products. When the government spends American taxpayer money on an infrastructure project, it’s common sense that the materials used in that project should be made in America. We have the world’s best workers making the best materials we need right here at home,” said Senator Portman, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Because Buy America rules have not been fully implemented for all federal infrastructure programs, too often, foreign materials are used to construct many taxpayer-funded highways, roads, bridges, and water and energy infrastructure projects. Brown and Portman believe these products should instead be produced in the U.S.

Take for example the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Buy America requirements. The Buy America requirements for that agency have been applied only to iron and steel used for structures. The FHWA estimates that structural steel accounts for less than 5 percent of the costs of a typical highway project. That means the vast majority of materials used to construct federally assisted highways, roads, and bridges do not have to be produced in the U.S.

The Build America, Buy America Act will fix these loopholes and ensure the Buy America statute actually results in the purchase of American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products for all federally funded infrastructure projects.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing, the American Iron and Steel Institute, and the United Steelworkers endorsed this bill.