Durbin, Duckworth Introduce Bill To Reform American Infrastructure Investment

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Representative Karen Bass (D-CA-37), announced new landmark legislation to make bold reforms to federal infrastructure programs that would help create jobs, rebuild the country, and work to right the wrongs of decades of disinvestment and exclusionary federal policies that have cut off communities of color.  The Build Local, Hire Local Act would ensure that federal infrastructure investments put low-income communities first and prioritize local workers and disadvantaged businesses.

“We have to make sure that investments in infrastructure lead to jobs and growth for small and disadvantaged businesses,” Durbin said.  “This bill ensures we prioritize local workers and communities of color in any comprehensive infrastructure bill Congress considers.”  

“It’s well past time that we invest in our infrastructure to strengthen our economy and create jobs, and it makes sense to prioritize filling the jobs created by these investments with residents of the very communities where the construction occurs.” said Duckworth. “I’m proud to join Senators Durbin and Gillibrand, as well as Congresswoman Bass, in introducing this common-sense legislation to revitalize local communities and put Illinoisans first.”

This legislation would help create a comprehensive set of reforms to raise wages and labor standards, strengthen unions, invest in American manufacturing, create new opportunity for Americans who are struggling to get high-quality jobs, and strengthen communities that have been hurt by crumbling infrastructure and failed federal policies. These reforms would be applied to the nation’s estimated $100 billion in annual infrastructure spending across a series of industries.  Build Local, Hire Local also lays out a blueprint for the values and priorities that must be reflected in any infrastructure package Congress may develop in order to ensure that any major investment in the country creates high-quality jobs and opportunity across every community.

Specifically, the Build Local, Hire Local Act would do the following:

  • Create high-quality local construction jobs for people who need them most through targeted hiring practices that use registered apprenticeships and coordinate with state and local workforce development boards.
  • Rebuild our infrastructure with new opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses.
  • Encourage the use of best-value contracting, registered apprenticeships, and neutrality in union organizing to ensure projects place a premium not just on the bottom line but also on the quality of jobs, safety, equity, climate resiliency, and environmental justice.
  • Dedicate investment to struggling areas and connect communities to greater opportunity through new performance measures and data on accessibility to transportation and a new $25 billion Connect Communities Grant Program to redevelop marginalized communities.
  • Provide pathways to careers in construction, specialty trades, and other infrastructure jobs through a new $5 billion Building American Infrastructure and Careers Program to support training partnerships led by unions, community organizations, and education and training providers.
  • Improve labor standards and working conditions and strengthen worker power by using Davis-Bacon and Service Contract Act wage protections, exposing bad actors in contract bids, requiring the use of workforce diversity programs, creating transparency in pay, employment status, and wage rates, ending forced arbitration, and ensuring that funds are not used for union-busting.
  • Protect and expand domestic manufacturing by establishing a new Buy America Bureau that would help build American supply chains and bring transparency and coordination to the Buy America waiver process, and by encouraging the use of U.S. Employment Plans that prioritize existing and new American manufacturing and service jobs when building the nation’s infrastructure.
  • Ensure that the communities where infrastructure projects are taking place are the first to benefit from the job and training opportunities that those projects provide.