The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced the expiration on Nov. 10 of a general waiver to Buy America requirements imposed by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. With this expiration, the IIJA’s expanded Buy America requirements are now in effect for most federally funded infrastructure projects. The DOT proposed two narrower waivers that will exempt a limited number of projects from these requirements.
The $1.2 trillion IIJA, signed into law in November 2021, expanded and made significant changes to Buy America requirements for federally funded infrastructure projects. The IIJA requires Buy America preferences and broadens the preferences 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. These preferences are now in effect for DOT-funded projects with the expiration of the general waiver.
However, projects that fall under the two new waivers will be exempt from enforcement of these expanded preferences. The first proposed waiver would waive these requirements for contracts entered into prior to the general waiver’s expiration, specifically:
- Any contract entered into before Nov. 10, 2022
- Any contract entered into before March 10, 2023, if the contract results from a solicitation published prior to May 14, 2022
The second proposed waiver would waive these requirements in the following circumstances:
- The total value of the noncompliant products is no more than the lesser of $1,000,000 or 5% of total allowable costs under the federal financial assistance award
- The size of the federal financial assistance award is below $500,000
- The nondomestically produced miscellaneous minor components comprise no more than 5% of the total material cost of an otherwise domestically produced iron or steel product
Comments on the proposed waivers are due by Nov. 20 and can be submitted via regulations.gov. ABC will be submitting comments in support of the waivers. While ABC supports strategies to expand domestic jobs and manufacturing to avoid global supply chain disruptions and capture economic benefits within America, Buy America requirements must be balanced with safeguards against increased costs and delays of infrastructure projects funded by taxpayers.
Please reach out to Michael Altman at [email protected] with any questions or comments on the proposed waivers and Buy America requirements.