The Invest in American Jobs Act of 2013 is among the newest efforts to increase job creation and bolster the U.S. economy. The legislation would ensure that major future transportation systems that are financed by taxpayers are “Made in America,” keeping more jobs on American soil.
In a teleconference today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, Calif.), an original co-sponsor of the legislation, along with Robert Borosage and Dave Johnson of Campaign for America, emphasized the importance of the effort, noting that the nation has missed various opportunities for job growth by outsourcing major projects, which deprives Americans of jobs and decreases the nation’s competitive edge.
They noted that the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge project is one example of a missed jobs opportunity in America. That project was partially outsourced to a company in China, which fabricated steel components for the bridge. The choice to outsource had consequences: It cost Americans over 3,000 jobs, Garamendi estimates.
“What’s clear is that the United States lost an exceptional opportunity to create good-paying jobs at home during a time of high domestic unemployment,” according to American University’s School of Communications investigative feature project, which describes how then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ultimately made the decision to outsource, visited the workers building the bridge in China.
The Invest in American Jobs Act, introduced by Rep. Cheri Bustos and members of the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee earlier this month, would guarantee that all federal transportation and infrastructure investments support U.S. jobs and domestic manufacturing, according to Garamendi’s website, which lists the specifics of the bill:
- It improves America’s requirements in various transportation systems, including highways, bridges, public transit, rail, and aviation infrastructure and equipment. It also ensures that all manufactured materials for these projects are made in America.
- The bill increases domestic content requirements “for public transit rolling stock and federally procured aviation facilities and equipment from 60 percent under current law to 100 percent by FY 2017.”
- It applies “Buy America” requirements to other transportation and infrastructure investment, where such requirements do not exist in law. This includes “rail infrastructure grants, loans, and loan guarantees, Clean Water State Revolving Fund grants, and Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants.”
- It requires federal agencies to “justify any proposed waiver of the ‘Buy America’ requirements.” It also requires that the American public “has notice of and an opportunity to comment on any proposed waiver prior to it taking effect.”
Garamendi emphasized that the act is an extremely important initiative considering America has lost “millions of jobs” over the last several decades. As manufacturing centers in the Midwest have closed, eliminating jobs and stunting economic growth in local areas, the nation needs the bill to restore jobs in these ailing areas.
He recommended several fundamental tasks to strengthen U.S. industry, including building a greater education system, improving advanced research, building more infrastructure based on such research, and reshoring projects. Finally, he noted that industry needs to change to create “an economy that works for working people.”
“Our message is that we are not backing away from this [effort]. This legislation is fundamental to America,” he said.