Finkenauer Introduces Legislation to Protect Iowa’s High-Skilled Workforce and Ensure Infrastructure Projects Use USA-Made Materials

June 3, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) is introducing legislation on Wednesday to eliminate a loophole in current law and ensure state and local infrastructure projects use American-made materials, hire local high-skilled labor and guarantee wage protections.

The Stop Swaps, Protect Local Jobs Act prevents state and local governments from engaging in “fund-swapping” — that is, using accounting maneuvers to avoid Buy America provisions and federal project requirements that guarantee fair wages for employees and encourage the hiring of local businesses and American manufacturers.

"Fixing our crumbling roads and bridges is a top priority, but states shouldn’t be allowed to cut corners and undercut local workers with an accounting gimmick,” Congresswoman Finkenauer said. “I’ve been fighting against unfair fund-swapping practices since my time in the Iowa statehouse. Now, I’m proud to introduce this federal legislation to ensure workers, local contractors and American manufacturers benefit from our investments in high-quality and long-lasting infrastructure."

The legislation prevents states from facilitating swaps that allow local government projects to evade federal wage protections and Buy America standards. In states where such protections are not already written into law, the bill will ensure infrastructure projects are built to high standards with domestic materials as well as provide competitive wages for local workers.

Such protections are critical as Congress opens discussion on a major federal infrastructure package, and will ensure maximum local impact of new infrastructure investments as the country moves toward economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

"I remember my dad, as a union pipefitter, being gone for months at a time to work jobs with wages that could support our family,” Finkenauer said. “He missed a lot and so did we. Lawmakers should be making it easier, not harder, for Iowans to find good jobs in their own communities, but fund swaps create another barrier for families and local businesses. We need to end this practice to create more opportunities, ensure our tax dollars are spent on American-made products, and, along the way, maybe turn more of those goodnight phone calls, into goodnight hugs."