By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA

Both major party presidential candidates are ramping up infrastructure rhetoric and making transportation a hot topic as the November election draws closer.

President Donald Trump July 15 is scheduled to announce his administration’s final rule revisions for the National Environmental Protection Act. It is expected to ease regulations for the transportation construction industry and speed the project approval process.

Trump, the Republican, won office four years ago in part with a message of strong investment in infrastructure. The FAST Act, the 2015 surface transportation reauthorization, expires Sept. 30, a month before the Nov. 3 election.

Joe Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden, as part of a July 9 speech on domestic manufacturing, proposed strengthening and extending both “Buy America” and “Buy American” requirements. 

Buy America applies to iron and steel permanently incorporated into federal-aid transportation projects, which are overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation but administered by state and local transportation agencies. The similar in name Buy American (with an “n”) rule applies to a different type of project, as it establishes a preference for domestic construction materials purchased under all direct federal government contracts. 

Biden, the Democrat, would scrutinize the waiver process under both rules by “closing loopholes” and establishing greater transparency through publication of waiver requests on the internet. He would also extend “Buy American” requirements to research and development in an effort to prevent products from being invented in the United States but produced internationally.

He is set to give a speech July 16 to update his previously released infrastructure plan.

ARTBA will update members on both speeches next week. Read our synopsis of each candidate’s positions on transportation infrastructure.

Above: President Donald Trump