On April 28, the Department of Transportation (DOT) published a request for comment on proposing to issue a transitional waiver to comply with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s new Buy America requirements. Here’s what to know:
- On April 22, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a memo directing all federal agencies to ensure that all “funds made available for a Federal financial assistance program for infrastructure” are covered by the new infrastructure law’s “Build America, Buy America” provisions by no later than May 14, 2022.
- In order to comply with this requirement, DOT’s proposed transitional waiver gives them up to 180 days after May 14 to develop enforcement and compliance guidance on the new provisions.
- The Department states this waiver is “intended to… provide for strengthened enforcement over time” and that they “expect states, industry, and other partners to begin the compliance process.”
- This new measure will expand the domestic preference law to include materials such as non-ferrous metals, plastic and polymer-based products (including polyvinylchloride, composite building materials, and polymers used in fiber optic cables), glass (including optic glass), lumber, and more.
- During negotiations of the infrastructure legislation, AGC secured exemptions for concrete, asphalt, and aggregates from the definition of “construction materials.”
AGC supports this move by the Department and will voice that during the comment period. At a time when transportation contractors are still facing historic disruptions to the material supply chain, it is self-evident that more time and collaboration among industry partners is needed to be able to meet these new requirements.