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The U.S. Department of Transportation recently published a proposal to waive “Buy America” requirements for construction materials used on DOT projects for 180 days and requested public comments with a deadline of May 13.

The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, enacted in November 2021, expanded and made significant changes to Buy America requirements for federally funded infrastructure projects. Buy America requirements previously applied to iron, steel and certain manufactured goods. The IIJA broadens coverage to include nonferrous metals, such as copper used in electric wiring; plastic- and polymer-based products; glass, including optical fiber; and certain other construction materials, such as lumber and drywall.

The stated purpose of the waiver is to provide for a transition to the new requirements, allowing time for state and local governments, the industry and other stakeholders to work toward compliance with the updated Buy America standards. The DOT may shorten or narrow the waiver if it receives information regarding sufficient domestic availability of construction materials.

ABC supports this waiver and encourages members to submit comments in support here. While ABC supports strategies to expand domestic jobs and manufacturing to avoid global supply chain disruptions and capture economic benefits within America, Buy America policies need to be balanced with safeguards against increased costs and delays. This waiver will allow for more time to assess the impact of the new requirements.

Unless the DOT issues another notice rescinding the waiver, it will go into effect on May 14, 2022.