Keep Berry & KISSELL Amendments strong

Buying American Strengthens Our National Security

 

Issue

There were multiple attacks on the Berry Amendment and the Kissell Amendment in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 4909 and S. 2943. Maintaining the integrity of these domestic preference laws is a top priority for USIFI and NFI.

 

Status

USIFI and NFI, in concert with a larger coalition, has been successful in defending the Berry Amendment in the House. The Senate, however, is another matter. There is an issue of concern in Section 861 of the Senate bill that still needs to be fixed in conference. The main Berry and Kissell issues arising this year include changes to the procurement of commercial items, the simplified acquisition procedure threshold, athletic footwear for the military.

 
Section 861 of S. 2943: Commercial Items

SENATE – This problem must be fixed in conference. Section 861 of the Senate NDAA
(S. 2943) creates ambiguity regarding whether the Berry Amendment would apply to certain commercial items used to fulfill a subset of textile and apparel contracts. This is unacceptable. USIFI, NFI, and our coalition partners worked closely with Senator Lindsey Graham on an amendment to fix this potential problem. That amendment, SA 4550, clarifies that Section 861 would not affect the procurement of commercial items under Berry. USIFI, NFI, and our coalition partners aggressively battled to include this fix in the final Senate bill, but the larger fight over process prevented SA 4550 and most others amendments from being considered.

 
Simplified Acquisition Procedure Threshold

HOUSE — The Chairman’s version of the bill as introduced originally sought to raise the simplified acquisition procedure (SAP) threshold from $150,000 to $500,000. Raising the threshold would potentially exempt from Berry 20% of all textile and apparel military contracts worth an estimated $340M. USIFI, NFI, and our coalition partners supported an amendment offered in committee by Representatives Walter Jones (R-NC), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), and Niki Tsongas (D-MA) to strike the SAP threshold increase. That lobbying effort was successful. The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) adopted the Jones/Hunter/Tsongas Amendment.

SENATE – Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) offered an amendment that would have raised the SAP threshold from $150,000 to $500,000. Senator Lindsey Graham (S-SC) placed a hold on this amendment until a fix could be found. USIFI, NFI, and other coalition partners then worked with Senator Carper to exempt the Berry and Kissell Amendments from this increase, thus keeping the Berry threshold at $150,000 while also delinking it from inflation. USIFI and NFI supported the revised Carper amendment (SA 4643), but it was not included in the final bill.

 
Athletic Footwear

HOUSE — During consideration of the NDAA before the full House, Representative Mark Sanford (R-SC) proposed an amendment to loosen sourcing rules regarding athletic footwear for military trainees. The underlying bill included language mandating that the Department of Defense (DOD) provide Berry Amendment compliant athletic footwear to its trainees. Rep. Sanford’s amendment would have struck this language in favor of the existing voucher program recruits use to purchase non-Berry compliant footwear. USIFI and NFI opposed this amendment, which was ultimately ruled out of order by the Rules Committee and not allowed to be considered on the House floor. As a result, the requirement for DOD to provide Berry-compliant footwear to trainees was preserved.

Update: Cong. Sanford filed an amendment on the Defense Appropriations Bill that would have exempted athletic footwear from Berry. USIFI and NFI opposed this amendment. On June 16, the House voted it down 265-165; so it was not adopted.

SENATE – Similar to the House, language to ensure that athletic footwear procured by DOD be compliant with the Berry Amendment was adopted by Senate Armed Services Committee
(SASC) during its committee markup. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) both introduced amendments that would have permitted the military to continue its current voucher program for non-Berry compliant footwear. USIFI, NFI and other coalition partners opposed these amendments that ultimately were not considered on the Senate floor.

 

Background on the Berry Amendment & the Kissell Amendment

The Berry Amendment (10 USC 2533a) requires DOD to buy textile, clothing and footwear products made with 100% U.S. fibers, yarns, and fabrics that are cut, sewn, and assembled in the United States. It also applies to DOD procurement of food, hand tools and measuring tools. There is also a Berry Amendment variant covering specialty metals (10 USC 2533b). The Berry Amendment ensures that critical U.S. military needs are not dependent on goods provided by foreign countries — thus mitigating a potentially serious national security issue.

The Department of Defense buys $1.4-2.2 billion in textile, clothing, and footwear items for our armed forces each year. DOD estimates that over 8,000 different textile items are purchased for use by the U.S. military, and this figure rises to over 30,000 line items when individual sizes are considered. As domestic suppliers, U.S. textile mills provide the highest quality goods on a timetable that our armed forces demand.

The Kissell Amendment (6 USC 453b) is a law similar to the Berry Amendment that applies to Department of Homeland Security procurement for textiles, clothing, and footwear for the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

 

Action Items:

Please maintain the integrity of the Berry and Kissell Amendments. Make sure that Senator Graham’s clarifying amendment on commercial items (SA 4550) that fixes our Section 861 problem is included in any final NDAA bill produced by the conference committee.