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Why Fashion’s Welcoming the $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

The apparel and textile industries praised the Senate passage Tuesday of the sweeping $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that would make a mammoth investment in the nation’s roads, waterways, public transit and broadband.

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), representing the domestic textile industry from fiber through finished products, said the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 69 to 30, will provide billions of dollars in new spending to revitalize the nation’s roads, bridges and railways and help reconstitute a domestic supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE).

NCTO president and CEO Kim Glas said providing critical resources for aging infrastructure and incentivizing the reshoring of PPE production was “an important priority of the U.S. textile industry.”

NCTO noted that it worked with congressional allies to include a version of the Make PPE in America Act, legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), in the infrastructure legislative package. The bill ensures all PPE purchased by the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs are Berry Amendment-compliant; guarantees long-term contracts to U.S. manufacturers, and creates a tiered preference for PPE made in the Western Hemisphere by free trade partners using U.S. components, after domestic manufacturing capacity has been maximized.

“This bill will help onshore critical production of personal protective equipment by guaranteeing long-term contracts for domestically produced PPE and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are utilized to bolster the federal purchase of American-made PPE,” Glas said. “The U.S. manufacturing industry has produced more than 1 billion lifesaving PPE and other medical products over the last year, as NCTO members retooled production chains in response to the nation’s needs. We will continue to urge the government to purchase Berry-compliant products containing 100 percent domestic content for PPE to help bolster the full U.S. production chain in the future.”

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American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) president and CEO Steve Lamar said the “historic infrastructure package aims to create jobs by strengthening America’s global competitiveness.”

“It is forward-looking and we are thrilled that it will help prevent future bottlenecks that could threaten our economic growth,” Lamar said. “We are pleased to support this administration and Congress in taking this legislation one step closer to the finish line to set the American economy on a path of long-term growth. While we are experiencing historic gridlock in our ports and logistics corridors, it is refreshing that Congress is not following suit and is instead coming together in a bipartisan fashion to help keep our economy moving.”

Lamar said it’s now time for the House to approve and the president to sign into law the “much needed and long overdue legislation.”

American Trucking Associations president and CEO Chris Spear said after nearly three decades, the country and industry “have been held hostage by empty promises–all talk, no action. Today, the Senate put America ahead of itself.”

“Passage of this bipartisan infrastructure bill is a groundbreaking step toward revitalizing America’s decaying roads and bridges, supporting our supply chain and economy with the foundation they need to grow, compete globally and lead the world,” Spear said. “The bill also contains significant measures to grow and strengthen trucking’s essential workforce. The men and women who carry this economy on trucks thank those senators who had the courage to bridge the partisan divide, putting the interests of our nation above politics.”

Also focusing on industry logistical woes, Lamar said, “we cannot over-stress the need for additional federal support to address the current and worsening shipping crisis that has caused destructive chaos at the ports, on the oceans and increasingly at retail from empty shelves to inflation.”

AAFA welcomed the introduction of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 in the House on Tuesday. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), would require the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to establish and enforce rules regarding minimum service requirements for shippers, respond to breaches of contracts, and address excessive and unjust detention and demurrage fees.

“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act addresses many issues that have been a thorn in the side of American business for years and comes at a time when a shipping crisis is stymieing our nation’s economic recovery,” Lamar said. “We encourage the House to quickly take this bill under consideration. This bill will go a long way in preventing future shipping crises. However, it will not be able to help American businesses that are struggling now due to the current, unprecedented shipping crisis that continues to spiral out of control. With this in mind, we urge the Biden administration to provide relief to American businesses now by eliminating unnecessary and costly tariffs by renewing GSP and MTB and ending the China Section 301 tariffs.”

AAFA also called on the Biden administration to bring all stakeholders to the table to find an immediate resolution to the current shipping crisis and to “require the FMC to fulfill its oversight role to address price gouging and other malpractices.”