Congressman Larry Kissell (NC-08) has introduced H.R. 2312, the DOD Textile and Apparel Procurement Fairness Act, legislation that would end an unfair advantage in Department of Defense contracting for the Federal Prison Industries, helping to promote businesses with law abiding employees over federally incarcerated criminals.
"This is a common sense bill to make it clear that our hard working businesses should not have to compete for their livelihood with those who have broken the law and been removed from society," said Kissell. "While I completely support programs to help keep our prisoners contributing to society and working, we simply cannot do so at the disadvantage of our small businesses."
Kissell is a lead cosponsor of the bill, along with Republican Congressman Walter Jones (NC-03).
"Under the Berry Amendment, which requires the clothing and footwear worn by our troops to be made entirely in the U.S., our domestic manufacturers are able to produce the best possible goods to outfit and equip our troops," added Kissell. "This legislation is vital for the safety and security of our servicemen and women, as well as our domestic manufacturing sector. Our textile industry has already been ravaged by bad trade deals, and through this legislation, more companies will be able to prosper and keep and create good jobs here in the U.S."
In 2010, the U.S. military spent more than $2 billion on uniforms, camouflage, training gear and combat footwear for U.S. servicemen and women. Nearly $140 million of that business went to convicted felons in 24 federal prisons around the country as part of the Federal Prison Industries.
"Swift passage of the DOD Textile and Apparel Procurement Fairness Act will create opportunities for job creation within the U.S. textile and apparel industry," said Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association. "As we explore every option to create and sustain jobs in the United States, our government should not put the employment of federal inmates over the employment of hardworking taxpayers. I would like to thank Representative Jones and Representative Kissell for their leadership in introducing this important legislation that will level the playing field for workers in North Carolina and around the country who outfit our troops."