The Buy America program was created to promote U.S. manufacturing and help the domestic economy by creating jobs for Americans and maximizing the use of American-made materials. By design, Buy America laws were written to ensure that taxpayer dollars made available for constructing and sustaining our public transportation systems would flow back into the U.S. economy and discourage the outsourcing of these manufacturing jobs to other countries. Additional oversight and enforcement to better hold companies and transit agencies accountable for compliance with domestic content rules is paramount. Our members include the U.S. based subsidiaries of global companies that are currently building passenger railcars rolling stock in the United States. These businesses have rich histories that stretch back decades or longer. They are American manufacturers—not State-Owned Enterprises — that provide thousands of well-paying domestic rail supply jobs, with supply chains that touch almost every state. These companies have invested in the United States to meet and often exceed Buy America’s 70% domestic content requirement on their railcars, leveraging a network of over 500 U.S. suppliers. They also have the ability to fill end-to-end manufacturing positions, from design, industrial and mechanical engineering to purchasing and supply chain, from project management to production testing.
The funding that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IJA) provides will also help grow, expand and diversify the rail supply industry. The investments the IIJA will fund provide new business opportunities for small businesses and disadvantaged businesses. It also remains vital that while this funding is a great start to the long overdue modernization and expansion of the U.S. passenger rail network, our country needs a predictable long term funding mechanism to provide ongoing federal investment.
RSI believes USDOT should be empowered to exercise stricter Buy America oversight to keep grant funding in the United States and to spur the domestic jobs critical to maintaining a strong American manufacturing base. RSI also supports modifying Buy America laws to ensure that if a transit agency accepts any source of federal funding, then all of that agency’s capital expenditures should be required to adhere to Buy America.