Agencies within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will now be buying garments "Made in America."
Legislation offered by Rep. Larry Kissell (N.C.) mandating that any textile and apparel products contracted by the DHS be manufactured in the United States with 100 percent U.S. inputs was included in the stimulus package.
This mandate, commonly known as the Berry Amendment, first was applied to the U.S. Department of Defense beginning in 1941. Because of existing U.S. international obligations, the new Kissell legislation will cover prospective U.S. government procurement of uniforms and other textile products for the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard within DHS.
"This amendment is exactly what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is all about--using American ingenuity to fuel our economic recovery. There is nothing more American than the brave men and women who protect us every day serving at DHS wearing uniforms made by hardworking Americans," Kissell commented.
"The passage of the Kissell Amendment will be a boost to the U.S. wool industry and the textile industry as a whole," said Rita Kourlis Samuelson, wool marketing director for the American Sheep Industry Association. "As many as 100,000 uniformed employees will be wearing garments grown and sewn in the United States."
The U.S. textile and apparel sector has been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn with 60,000 jobs lost during the past 12 months. In the past year, 44 textile plants have closed, including 14 in North Carolina, 10 in South Carolina, four in Georgia, seven in Alabama and seven in Virginia.