The United States Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (USDA RD) is accepting public comments on a proposed 6-month waiver for the implementation of the Build America, Buy America Act.
Under the bipartisan infrastructure law, the Build America, Buy America Act (BABA) established a requirement that a substantial amount of materials used in federally supported infrastructure projects must be produced in the United States. United.
According to a blog from the National Association of Counties (NACo):
NACo has submitted comments to the USDA RD expressing concern that the immediate expansion of BABA before local governments have time to comply could delay progress on much-needed transportation and infrastructure projects and strongly supports the waiver proposed by USDA RD. BABA’s immediate expansion could have extreme unintended consequences, especially for rural counties that often face various barriers to economic development and other hurdles due to unique geographic challenges.
As county governments support BABA’s intention to reinvigorate American domestic manufacturing, we believe that federal regulations that may impede the delivery of infrastructure projects to our residents should be logically implemented. To ensure that infrastructure projects submitted to BABA are delivered to residents on time and within budget, the federal government should ensure that domestic manufacturers have the capacity to supply the materials and components needed to these projects.
If accepted, the six-month adjustment period would allow counties across the country to plan for and avoid potential negative outcomes of immediate BABA implementation, such as:
- Delayed deployment of critical broadband, water and community infrastructure
- Reduced access to capital for rural businesses and essential community investments such as schools, hospitals and first responder facilities
- Decrease in investment in rural clean energy projects and transition from fossil fuels
- Slower participation in new USDA food supply chain programs, resulting in persistent gaps in the food supply chain for the country
- Underinvestment in maintaining and upgrading multifamily housing that houses rural America’s most vulnerable residents
- Creation of significant barriers to the use of DR programs by socially vulnerable, distressed and very poor rural communities, including communities of color and tribal nations
As important investors and stewards of national infrastructure, counties have made reducing regulatory barriers to address our nation’s aging infrastructure a long-standing priority. Counties support the USDA’s mission and opportunities to improve rural development and the quality of life in rural communities.
Public comments should be submitted to [email protected] by July 18.
Learn more about the waiver and the public comment period.
Read the full NACo blog for more information.