Transportation Spending and 'Buy America' Requirements [February 4, 2014]   [open pdf - 250KB]

"The Buy America Act is the popular name for a group of domestic content restrictions that have been attached to funds administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT). These funds are used to make grants to states, localities, and other non-federal government entities for various transportation projects. Specific sources of funding administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) are covered under various Buy America provisions. Generally, these statutes require applicable agency grant programs and spending to be used to fund projects that only include steel, iron, and/or manufactured products produced in the United States. Each provision includes a series of circumstances under which the agency may issue a nationwide or project-specific waiver to these domestic content requirements. Such exemptions may be based upon a finding that application of the domestic content requirement is not in the public interest, the needed materials are not produced in sufficient quantity and/or quality in the United States, or the cost of using domestic materials is unreasonable, among others. The Buy American Act, another statute requiring domestic content preferences in federal government procurement, does not apply to DOT-administered grant funds because, while the source of the money is federal, purchases are not made directly by the federal government. For more information on the Buy American Act and other domestic preference requirements, see CRS Report R43354, 'Domestic Content Restrictions: The Buy American Act and Complementary Provisions of Federal Law', by Kate M. Manuel et al."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R43388
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