United States of America: Buy American provisions in school construction bill.
The 111th Congress (2009-2010) consdered, but ultimately did not enact, a bill to authorize construction projects in public schools includes Buy American provisions. The bill has been approved by the House of Representatives and is pending action in the Senate.
Representative Ben Chandler (Democrat of Kentucky) and 25 co-sponsors introduced on April 30, 2009 the “21st Century Green High Performing Public School Facilities Act” (H.R.2187). The bill would authorize $6.4 billion for school renovation and modernization projects for Fiscal Year 2010. The stated purpose of the grants (per section 101 of the bill) “shall be for the purpose of modernizing, renovating, or repairing public school facilities, based on their need for such improvements, to be safe, healthy, high-performing, and up-to-date technologically.”
The Buy American provisions in the bill are found in section 306, and closely track a similar provision in the economic stimulus package (see the Global Trade Alert description of that measure). Section 306 reads as follows:
(a) In General- None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for a project for the modernization, renovation, repair or construction of a public school facility unless all of the iron, steel, and manufactured goods used in the project are produced in the United States.
(b) Exceptions- Subsection (a) shall not apply in any case or category of cases in which the Secretary finds that--
(1) applying subsection (a) would be inconsistent with the public interest;
(2) iron, steel, and the relevant manufactured goods are not produced in the United
States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality;
(3) inclusion of iron, steel, and manufactured goods produced in the United States will
increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.
(c) Publication of Justification- If the Secretary determines that it is necessary to waive the application of subsection (a) based on a finding under subsection (b), the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register a detailed written justification of the determination.
(d) Construction- This section shall be applied in a manner consistent with United States obligations under international agreements.
The range of “manufactured goods” that might be procured for projects under this bill is quite wide. Section 103 defines the activities for which fund might be allowed to include (among many others) repairing, replacing, or installing roofs, electrical wiring, water supply and plumbing systems, sewage systems, storm water runoff systems, lighting systems, or components of such systems, building envelope, windows, ceilings, flooring, or doors; repairing, replacing, or installing heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems, or components of such systems (including insulation); upgrading or installing educational technology infrastructure to ensure that students have access to up-to-date educational technology; modernization, renovation, or repair of science and engineering laboratory facilities, libraries, and career and technical education facilities, including those related to energy efficiency and renewable energy, and improvements to building infrastructure to accommodate bicycle and pedestrian access; renewable energy generation and heating systems, including solar, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal, or biomass, including wood pellet, woody biomass, waste-to-energy, and solar-thermal systems or components of such systems, and energy audits; and creating greenhouses, gardens (including trees), and other facilities for environmental, scientific, or other educational purposes, or to produce energy savings.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, which approved it by a vote of 31 to 14 on May 6, 2009. The House of Representatives debated and amended the bill on May 14, 2009, and approved it by a vote of 275 to 155.
The bill is now pending in the Senate, which received the bill on May 18, 2009. It has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
 Fiscal years in the United States start on October 1 of the preceding calendar year, such that Fiscal Year 2010 will run from October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010.
Any Evidence-Based Deliberation:
|Is there anything in the public record to suggest that evidence of the effectiveness of the proposed measure was considered during official deliberations?||No|
|Is there any evidence that alternatives to the proposed measure were considered?||No|
|Is there anything in the public record that suggests that empirical evidence informed the comparison across the alternatives available to government?||No|
|Was such evidence identified?||No|
|Is such evidence publicly available?||No|
|Did the official decision-maker in question provide an explanation as to why a chosen measure was favoured over alternatives?||No|
|Is there any evidence to suggest that potentially affected trading partners were consulted before the measures were taken?||No|
|Is there any evidence that safeguards have been put in place to ensure that implementation of the initiative is transparent and non-discriminatory?||No|
|Did the government state its intention to review the measure within one year of implementation?||No|
Date of inception:
GTA Evaluation: Amber
See the hyperlinked items in the description above for the sources.