Stimulus Bill Contains Overlooked "Buy American" Provision Covering DHS Uniforms, Body Armor and Textiles
While a great deal has been written on the "Buy American" provision in the stimulus bill (Section 1605 of H.R. 1) that covers iron, steel, and manufactured goods, it turns out that the bill also contains another "Buy American" provision that applies to uniforms, body armor and other textile products purchased by the Department of Homeland Security.
Section 604 of Title VI of H.R. 1, which covers the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), states that DHS may not procure certain "covered items" if they are not "grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced in the United States." The definition of covered items includes those "directly related to the national security interests" of the U.S. and covers a wide variety of items including clothing, bags, protective equipment (such as body armor), parachutes, bandages and any item of equipment manufactured from or containing "fibers, yarns, fabrics, or materials." While the provision contains some exceptions, such as when the items are not available in the U.S. or if the non-compliant fibers do not exceed 10% of the total purchase price, it requires any exceptions to be posted on the FedBizOpps.gov web site.
Consistent wiht the language added to the "Buy American" provision in section 1605 of the the stimulus bill, section 604(k) states that this provision "shall be applied in a manner consistent with United States obligations under international agreements."
Interestingly, the provision requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to "ensure" that DHS employees that acquire textile products receives training in FY 2009 on this new requirement and that any new training programs includes "comprehensive information" on this new requirement.
This provision, which will require uniforms worn by employees of the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Coast Guard and other DHS units, was sponsored by recently elected Congressman Larry Kissell (D-NC).
While this "Buy American textiles" language was included in the House version of the stimulus billl, it was not included in the version of the bill passed by the Senate. The language was included in the final version of the bill that was agreed to by the Conference Committee and signed today by the President.
The text of section 604 can be found on page 126 of Section A of the PDF version of H.R. 1 that can be found here: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/h1/Recovery_Bill_Div_A.pdf (this is a large file).