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Biden administration waiving some 'Buy America' requirements in broadband buildout

The Biden administration announced Friday that it is waiving some “Buy America” requirements for its $42 billion broadband program.

The waiver allows some of the funds for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program — President Biden’s push to expand high-speed internet access nationwide — to be spent on equipment manufactured abroad.

The decision comes after the Department of Commerce found that some materials are not produced stateside in “sufficient and reasonably available quantities” to meet the needs of the program, according to the waiver.

“This [Build America, Buy America] waiver takes the strongest approach possible to protecting American jobs while also ensuring that we can quickly build the Internet networks,” Will Arbuckle, a senior policy adviser at Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said in a news release.

The Build America, Buy America Act, which was enacted as part of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, requires covered infrastructure projects to use iron, steel, manufactured products and construction materials produced in the U.S.

Even with the waiver, nearly 90 percent of funds for the broadband program are still expected to be spent on equipment manufactured in the U.S., Arbuckle noted.

“We’re doing this because the stakes are high,” he said in Friday’s news release. “At more than $42 billion, it is the single-largest investment to expand high-speed Internet access in American history.”

“These are American tax dollars—and we strongly believe they should be spent on equipment made by American workers in American communities,” Arbuckle added.

Source: The Hill

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