U.S. Manufacturers Hail Kissell Amendment
February 23, 2009,
An affiliation of U.S. textiles associations hailed the passage this month of the Kissell Amendment, a provision in the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The amendment was offered by freshman Congressman Larry Kissell (D-NC), who spent nearly three decades working in the hosiery industry. It extends the provisions of the Berry Amendment, which since 1941 has required the Department of Defense, for certain products judged essential to military readiness, to obtain goods that are 100% U.S. made from U.S. materials.
The new amendment applies to government procurement of textiles and uniforms for the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, each part of DHS.
"It's not going to be the same [impact] for every textile company in the United States, but every little bit helps," said Martin Foyle, chairman and ceo of Tuscarora Yarns, during a press conference.
Hardy Poole, government procurement specialist for the National Textile Association, said, "When you're seeing the retail meltdown we're seeing today, even a small contract can be the difference between a plant staying open or a plant going out."
Contracting officers have the right to waive the buy-American requirement if the price being offered by U.S. companies is not competitive in the U.S. market — which includes prices being offered on the same goods by foreign companies.
Proponents of the Kissell Amendment assert the program will return over $43 to the U.S. economy for every $250 spent, in the form of wages, income taxes, producer profit and corporate income taxes.
The bill was championed by domestic textiles companies that have toughed out decades of overall decline and off-shoring. "All the weak sisters in the textiles industry are long gone," added Lloyd Wood, director of membership and media outreach for the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition.