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Washington Outlook Archive

Kissell Introduces Bill To Expand Buy American Textiles

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Rep. Larry Kissell, D-N.C., has introduced a resolution in Congress that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to buy most of its clothing and textiles from US sources.

The resolution would build on his successful effort last year  to include in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act a requirement for the Transportation Security Administration to purchase uniforms made in America. The new measure is in the form of an amendment to the so-called Berry Amendment that for years has required the Defense Department to buy American textiles and apparel whenever possible. It would require DHS to procure all items involving textiles -- such as clothing, tents, tarpaulins, covers and other fabric -- from domestic manufacturers.

In introducing the legislation, Kissell said, "If we are truly determined to turn our economy around, we need to focus on securing and creating domestic manufacturing jobs." He pointed out that a number of countries place restrictions on purchases by their governments, preventing US goods from competing in some overseas markets.

Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations, said the  Kissell resolution would more than double the impact of his earlier legislation and help ensure a "thriving textile industry and manufacturing base in this country."

The measure could have rough sledding this time around, however, as President Barack Obama has expressed his concern over any legislation that could be viewed as protectionist, and government agencies generally are opposed to Buy American requirements because of the impact on their budgets.

July 21, 2009