This must be the new spirit of bipartisanship and unity that we’ve been hearing about nationally since the election: A joint news release that went out Friday afternoon was headed, “Crapo, Simpson, Bieter help retain rail jobs.” The occasion: A federal waiver was denied for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority to purchase 28 passenger rail locomotives from a Spanish firm rather than from the only qualifying domestic bidder, MotivePower Inc. of Boise. GOP Sen. Mike Crapo and GOP Congressman Mike Simpson joined with Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, a former Democratic legislator, to push the Federal Transit Authority to reject the request for a waiver from the “Buy American Act” for the federally funded purchase. If the Boise firm lost that business to the foreign company, hundreds of Idaho jobs could’ve been at risk.
In the joint press release, Bieter said, “I’m pleased that the FTA saw the wisdom of allowing U.S. companies to compete fairly. My hat is off to Sen. Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson for all their hard work to keep these jobs in Idaho.” The FTA’s deputy administrator informed the Massachusetts transit authority that it hadn’t “established sufficient grounds for a public interest waiver,” as it had neither shown that a waiver benefiting the foreign firm would introduce “significant new technology” or that it would “benefit the riding public.”