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Congress Approves Textile Buy America Legislation

Washinigton Outlook

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Congress Approves Textile Buy America LegislationCongress has approved a national defense authorization bill that continues and expands the requirement for defense agencies to buy American-made textiles and apparel. The action still has to go through the appropriation process, but the authorization is an important first step that preserves the textile industrys coveted Berry-Hefner amendment. It mandates the defense department to buy textiles and apparel of 100-percent domestic content wherever possible. There are loopholes that permit some foreign sourcing, but the act tends to strengthen domestic companies that do business with the military.In addition to the Berry-Hefner purchasing requirements, this years version of the legislation creates a Defense Industrial Base Capabilities fund to help develop capabilities for the production of components that are critical to the operation of military systems. It establishes an incentive program for US defense contractors to buy US machine tools, and it directs the secretary of defense to identify all critical components and the capability of manufacturers to produce them. It also provides for use of a defense department data base to report levels of foreign procurement and market sectors that are impacted, and it calls for elimination of purchases in foreign countries that refuse to deliver military products because of US counter intelligence or military operations..Auggie Tantillo, Washington Coordinator for the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC) said the congressional action is a good first step in ensuring military preparedness as it helps support a reliable domestic source for essential military goods. He said, however, that AMTAC will continue to work with Congress on further expansion of the Buy America act. The industry has been pressing to have those provisions added to Department of Home Security purchases, but that has not happened.By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent November 2003