Leave it to RINOs in the Senate to help Democrats put together an “America Last” monstrosity to present as their “bipartisan” infrastructure bill. Pundits are still combing through the 2702-page piece of legislative garbage but early finds have already prompted alarm bells for conservatives.
As Breitbart reports, “Bipartisan ‘Infrastructure‘ Bill Allows Feds to Bypass ‘Buy American‘ Rules“:
The bill requires, no later than 180 days after its enactment, the heads of federal agencies to ensure that “none of the funds made available for” each infrastructure project “may be obligated … unless all of the iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in the project are produced in the United States.”
Directly beneath the Buy American rule, though, is a massive carveout that allows the heads of federal agencies to bypass the requirement if they consider the requirement “inconsistent with the public interest,” does not meet “satisfactory quality,” or if they believe buying American will increase costs for the projects.
The bill reads:
The head of a Federal agency that applies a domestic content procurement preference under this section may waive the application of that preference in any case in which the head of the Federal agency finds that:
- applying the domestic content procurement preference would be inconsistent with the public interest;
- types of iron, steel, manufactured products, or construction materials are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities or of a satisfactory quality; or
- the inclusion of iron, steel, manufactured products, or construction materials produced in the United States will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.
Such waivers issued by federal agency heads to bypass Buy American requirements would only be reviewed every five years, according to the bill, and would have to be justified in the Federal Register with a public comment period of no fewer than 30 days.
Beyond that, there are tucked away little callouts to foreign interests that would never make it into a Trump-backed infrastructure plan. Among them are allowances for foreign labor at a time when unemployment is so high domestically. There’s even a nanny-state-inspired “National Motor Vehicle Per-Mile User Fee Pilot.”
Thus far, conservatives on Capitol Hill have not delivered pushback against these provision and more are coming to light. Just The News reported, “There was no immediate reaction to the carve out from Republicans or labor unions that have pressed hard for U.S. preference buying.”
With enough Republican support in the Senate, it seems likely the bill will pass this week. Much depends on the amendments that are proposed, but unless conservatives in the Senate can get enough traction highlighting the most atrocious provisions in the bill, it will be difficult to slow it down, let alone stop it.
Roll Call noted that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is confident:
“Given how bipartisan the bill is and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments and pass this bill in a matter of days,” Schumer said Sunday night just before taking the procedural steps to bring up the 2,702-page text as a substitute amendment to a legislative vehicle.
It’s unclear how many amendments will be offered or whether the Senate can pass the legislation as quickly as Schumer predicts, if criticisms from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, are any indication. Lee, who has not been part of the Senate negotiations, criticized the bill on Sunday night for spending too much money and for using what he characterized as misguided or unusual “pay-fors” to offset that spending.
“Infrastructure benefits us in countless ways,” Lee said. “The fact that infrastructure is a good thing and that we need it is a different question from whether we can afford the infrastructure plan in this particular case.”
Lee noted that the bipartisan negotiators, led by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio, worked on their proposals for months. He suggested the rest of the Senate should have weeks or months for themselves to digest the proposal, review analysis of its provisions and gather input from constituents.
America’s economy is in shambles following pandemic lockdowns and more are being threatened. Leave it to Capitol Hill to believe this is the best time to spend more money.