I believe direct and honest communication is the best way to solve a problem. Whether it's among people who agree, or perhaps more importantly, among those who disagree, communication is the only path to real progress. Last week's visit to our District by the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Ron Kirk, was a perfect opportunity to communicate our concerns on an issue about which we have too often not been heard: foreign trade.
In recent years, trade agreements have not been good for our district. For far too long, we've seen laws passed with limited thought of what the consequences were for American business and American jobs. Trade agreements implemented with the intent of promoting domestic business. As a textile worker for 27 years, I saw the firsthand effects of policies meant to help our nation, ultimately hurt it.
I am not anti-trade, but I am unapologetically pro-American business. We should not settle for anything less than that our businesses and workers have an honest, fair chance at competing in global markets. Our own manufacturing base can be revitalized if we make America's trade policies work for American businesses. I have sponsored legislation to repeal NAFTA as a direct start to re-energizing American manufacturing. We have to invest in American manufacturing and put our people back to work.
Since 1941, we've had a law set in place to ensure that the Department of Defense gives preference to domestically produced goods -- The Berry Amendment. In one my first acts in Congress, I was able to pass an amendment to extend the Berry Amendment to require that TSA uniforms be purchased from U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers. The amendment was adopted and was signed into law.
I have taken the idea of that amendment further, and have authored H.R. 3116, the Berry Amendment Extension Act. This legislation would require that all items directly related to national security procured and purchased by the Department of Homeland Security be grown, processed, and produced in the United States. This is common sense legislation. We should not be relying on foreign countries to outfit our brave men and women. We can ensure that "Buy American" not only protects our economy, it can protect our great nation.
This week, I joined fellow North Carolina Representative Walter Jones in cosponsoring H.R. 4553, "The 21st Century Buy American Act." This bill will help close similar loopholes and waivers in the 75-year-old Buy American Act that have resulted in billions of taxpayer dollars being sent to overseas companies. We must show the world that that the U.S. government supports American products. Our tax dollars should not be used to purchase foreign goods that we can create right here in our own backyard.
Lately, there are some people who discuss the recession as if it just happened overnight. I tell them what I've said to you here before and will continue to explain to them: Our district was undergoing a recession long before the current nationwide economic downturn began. We have been struggling with unemployment for years and we know the answer to righting the economy--manufacturing. Manufacturing is vital to our economy as well as national security. I am committed to making sure the voices of our district are heard, and that our businesses and industries right here in North Carolina can compete on a level playing field.
I'll keep the lines of communication open for you. I'm here to represent you, and I take the job seriously. And one way I will continue to make sure your voice is heard is to fight for American jobs and American businesses.