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Textile Industry Lauds White House Buy America Rule Change

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) came out in favor of the Biden administration’s proposal to increase domestic content rules for federal government purchases.

The administration said Wednesday that its Buy America Rule will boost U.S.-made content requirements in federal purchases and bolster critical supply chains. Calling it “the most robust changes to the implementation of the Buy American Act in almost 70 years,” the White House said President Biden’s proposal would increase U.S. content in the products the federal government buys and support the domestic production of products critical to national and economic security.

“With $600 billion in annual procurement spending, almost half of which is in manufactured products, from helicopter blades to trucks to office furniture, the federal government is a major buyer in a number of markets for goods and services, including the single largest purchaser of consumer goods in the world,” the White House said. “Leveraging that purchasing power to shape markets and accelerate innovation is a key part of the Biden industrial strategy to grow the industries of the future to support U.S. workers, communities, and firms.”

The administration said the pandemic demonstrated that federal procurement can strengthen the resiliency of domestic supply chains and reduce the risk of Americans being adversely impacted by the actions of competitor nations during a time of crisis.

“The U.S. textile industry, employing nearly 530,000 workers, greatly appreciates President Biden’s commitment to close Buy American loopholes and immediately increase domestic content requirements on purchases,” NCTO president and CEO Kim Glas said. “For far too long, Buy American policies have contained loopholes that have undermined our U.S. domestic industrial base and its workforce. Today is a positive step forward and we look forward to working with the administration on this critical issue moving ahead.”

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The rule immediately increases domestic procurement rules to 60 percent from 55, with the content threshold increasing to 75 percent over phases by 2029. It would also strengthen domestic supply chains for critical goods.

“Increasing the domestic procurement threshold for domestic goods under the current Buy American law will bolster domestic production and stimulate more investment in U.S. manufacturing, including textiles. We believe it is critical that taxpayer dollars are used to invest in American manufacturing and our workforce,” Glas said. “It is essential that we close loopholes in our Buy America laws, expand application and produce coverage of domestic content rules, and close unnecessary waivers that undermine American manufacturing and its workforce.”

As part of its efforts to buy American, the White House highlighted a purchase made by the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services for more than 22 million American-made cloth face masks for communities hit hard by the pandemic. Glas noted that production of these 100 percent U.S.-made masks has involved an extensive supply chain comprising 25 domestic companies and 5,000 American workers, and “we must continue to build on this success and reshore momentum by continuing to award future contracts using a similar process.”

The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.

“COVID-19 revealed the fragility in key aspects of our supply chain and we believe strengthening our Buy American laws, coupled with other strong policies, will help onshore these and other critical supply chains,” said Glas, whose Washington, D.C.-based trade association represents domestic textile manufacturers. “Fully maximizing purchasing of Berry-compliant products moving forward is critical to sustaining and furthering the incredible progress made to date and should be considered as part of the administration’s onshoring and industrial expansion efforts.”

The Berry Amendment is a longstanding domestic procurement law that ensures that all apparel and other goods made of textiles purchased by the U.S. military be required to contain 100 percent U.S. fibers, yarns and fabrics. Additionally, the textile and apparel goods must be cut and assembled in the U.S. NCTO also urged the administration to continue purchasing Berry-compliant products.

Glas also called for fostering investment in the capital-intensive raw material production processes upstream and downstream production in the supply chain. These upstream production processes are not only essential from an overall domestic capacity standpoint, she said, but they are also the implementation point for a range of advanced technologies such as anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and other functional fiber, yarns, fabrics and finishes.