Texas high-speed rail project could qualify for Biden’s ‘Buy American’ funds despite foreign contracts

In his State of the Union address on March 1, President Joe Biden welcomed the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November, saying, “It will transform the America and put us on the path to winning the economic competition of the 21st century.”

One of the provisions of the bill that Biden pointed out to support American jobs is the “Buy American” requirement for infrastructure projects to “ensure that American taxpayer dollars support jobs and businesses.” American companies”.

Texas Central Railroad, the proposed high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston, is seeking federal infrastructure funding to help fund his project, according to CEO Carlos Aguilar.

However, the Texas Central train will be based on Central Japan Railway’s Tokaido Shinkansen rail systemhe has signed a design-build contract with an Italian company, Salini Impregilo – now known as WeBuild. This named Renfe Operadoraa Spanish public company, as a rail operator.

While the president has touted the infrastructure act as supporting American jobs and businesses, the wording of the bill’s “Buy American” section doesn’t appear to prohibit Texas Central’s use of these foreign companies for their services. , including the Japanese technology used.

Vance Ginn, chief economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, agrees. He thinks the wording of the law allows foreign suppliers as long as the iron, steel and other supplies are made in the United States.

Ginn also pointed out that whenever the government has a “Buy American” requirement, there is always a compromise. Companies are then not allowed to question whether they are using the highest quality products available and whether their “American” choice is the best for the consumer.

Also, as Ginn noted, the Office of Management and Budget has one year to enact regulations to comply with the Buy American Act.

William Scofield, president of Bud Adams Ranches, Inc, which sits along the proposed route and will be affected if built, expressed concerns about the Texas Central project’s compliance with Buy American requirements in a letter to the editor he submitted to washington time.

In the letter, he proposed that the projects be ranked by scores on a number of criteria “such as number of citizens served, feasibility of financing construction, compliance with federal social justice priorities and climate policy, and full compliance with national environmental protection”. Endangered Species Act and Endangered Species Act.

Scofield doesn’t think the Texas Central high-speed rail project meets those criteria enough.

The Infrastructure Act contains provisions that allow the “Buy American” requirement to be waived if (1) “national procurement” would be inconsistent with the public interest; (2) if the types of iron, steel or other manufactured products are not sufficiently available in the domestic market; or (3) if using locally produced products would increase the cost by more than 25 percent.

Over the past month, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has sought public comment on “how the program should be implemented to best facilitate the development of intercity passenger rail corridors.” The Infrastructure Bill makes funds available for project planning and development.

The City of Dallas has filed public comments urging the FRA to provide support for the implementation of the Dallas-Houston high-speed rail project, as the city considers it “essential for mobility, economic development and sustainability , with recent growth in Texas cities and metropolitan areas.”

Texas Central did not respond to a request for comment before press time.

Jose P. Rogers