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$858B Defense Spending Bill to Boost US Textile Makers, NCTO Says

The Senate has passed legislation with the potential to boost U.S. textile production beginning in the new year.

A bipartisan majority on Thursday voted in favor of the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an $858 billion defense-spending bill that raises pay for troops, supports Taiwan against China, and aids Ukraine’s fight against Russia. The bill also contains a key provision that will enhance government procurement of essential products produced domestically, including textiles.

“We applaud the Senate for getting the NDAA across the finish line today, and we are pleased the legislation will now go to President Biden for his signature,” National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) CEO Kim Glas said last week. President Biden is expected to sign the bill, which will go into effect in six months.

“The underlying NDAA conference report includes a critical bill known as the Homeland Procurement Reform (HOPR) Act, which establishes specific criteria that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must meet to procure more domestically manufactured uniforms, footwear, and related critical items by DHS agencies,” she said.

The HOPR Act will require that to the extent possible at least one-third of funds allocated to buying uniforms and protective equipment be used to purchase goods made by U.S. small businesses. The legislation aims to establish steady domestic demand for these goods to encourage investment in reshoring domestic manufacturing for critical supplies.

House lawmakers in the Committee on Homeland Security described the legislation as “necessary to ensure domestically sourced, high-quality uniforms and protective equipment for DHS frontline personnel and level the playing field as American small businesses compete for Federal government contracts.”

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“American small businesses employ nearly fifty percent of the private sector workforce, but they received less than twenty-six percent of Federal government contracts in fiscal year 2019,” the Committee added. “This legislation is also a step in the right direction to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign-made personal protective equipment that was exposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“The importance of the domestic textile industry and a warm industrial base was heightened during the pandemic when the industry pivoted overnight to retool production lines to address severe shortages of lifesaving products,” Glas said. “That experience demonstrated how imperative it is to build and expand a permanent domestic manufacturing base for our country’s health and national security.”

NCTO also said the HOPR act is “poised to provide a greatly needed demand signal to the U.S. manufacturing industry” to expand its capabilities to produce essentials ranging from uniforms to footwear, body armor and helmets. “It is a step in the right direction to further safeguard our national security from unreliable foreign supply chains in China and other countries for essential materials,” Glas added.

Glas credited the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition (WPRC), along with a coalition of industry and labor groups, for getting the HOPR Act into the NDAA. “This common-sense bill will ensure that key divisions of the DHS can procure American-made critical uniforms and protective equipment to support the execution and enforcement of their missions,” she said.