Wheelchair-accessible vans-- now made in the U.S., so will the U.S. government purchase them?
As ValueWalk News reports, the U.S. government currently purchases wheelchair-accessible vans from overseas. Previously, Chrysler had manufactured such vehicles, but after they ceased production, there were no American manufacturers for wheelchair vans. Because of this, the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) asked for an exemption from following Buy America requirements.
Now, however, Vehicle Production Group (VPG) is manufacturing these vehicles in the U.S. and has asked the FTA to withdraw the waiver. As VPG's CEO Fred Drasner explains, “Actually, the waiver said until there was an American product available, it stayed in force. So by its own terms, it should be over.”
Drasner hopes the FTA can lift the waiver and award federal contracts to them.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) observes that these wheelchair-accessible vans should be available to those who need them, including injured vets, as soon as possible. Injured vets who fought for their country should have confidence that the vans they may have to use are manufactured by their proud countrymen and women.
Furthermore, if companies are interested and willing to start making a product here in the U.S. where one of the permanent waivers is in place, the government should be willing to help with access to capital, workforce training, etc.
Overall, federal agencies have a number of permanent waivers, many of which have been in place for 20+ years with little or no review. What's needed is a comprehensive examination of all such waivers, something Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) suggested in a recent letter to the Department of Transportation.
Image by Flickr User MTA Photos, used following Creative Commons guidelines.
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