This Week in Washington

Statement

By:  Larry Kissell
Date: Sept. 28, 2012
Location: Unknown

Over the past few weeks, I have been extremely concerned about the outbreaks of violence and protest in the Muslim world, with radicals attacking our embassies and consulates. Four proud Americans were killed, including our nation's Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. I disagree with anyone who believes that this was not a complete and shameless act of terror. Those who attacked our installations are terrorists and must be dealt with as such. They attacked our citizens and tore down the American flag. We must better protect our public servants who serve abroad, and these incidents highlight both the continued efforts of terrorists to attack America and the importance to better protect our assets and interests abroad--foremost among them being human life.

I responded to these attacks on behalf of our district by joining my colleagues in Congress in authoring legislation that would get answers as to what our government knew about these attacks and what measures were taken to protect our people. This bipartisan effort will require accountability for what happened, what we knew, what was done to protect our people and measures that can be taken to ensure this never happens again. This bipartisan investigation will not bring back the four Americans who were lost, but it will help get their families the answers they deserve and help to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. As we work to root out terrorists that threaten our way of life, we must remain steadfast in preventing radical Islam from taking the innocent lives of any Americans, anywhere across the globe.

The men and women of our military rarely ask for much. They vow to protect our nation from threats. They deserve nothing less than that our nation keeps the promises made to give them the equipment and tools they need to do the job. We should give them the absolute best, American-made uniforms and equipment. Yet far too often, foreign products enter the supply chain, from fabrics and textiles to high tech electronics used in weapons systems. I've made it my mission to highlight these wrongdoings and fight to ensure that our men and women receive products made by the same people they fight to protect and keep free.

Last week, Air Force Reserve Master Sergeant Steve Adachi made headlines when he refused to wear a pair of U.S. Military-issued boots before deploying for combat. Adachi's problem? The boots were made in China, and he would not stand for that. "I'm troubled that the military continues to downsize because of the budget deficits," said Adachi. "How many American workers are unemployed because military clothing is being produced in foreign countries?"

I could not agree more with Master Sgt. Adachi. We have local manufacturers in our district who make top-of-the-line combat boots for many branches of our military. Master Sgt. Adachi stood up for principle and common sense. I hope his courage will help highlight the importance of not shortchanging our troops with products made in communist countries. We cannot let government constantly put American workers at a disadvantage, and we especially cannot jeopardize the safety of the men and women who keep our nation strong and free. I absolutely will not stand for that.

We know the Chinese government has a practice in place to violate international law, disregard trade agreements and take every possible step to strengthen its position in the world relative to that of the United States. At the same time China is selling counterfeit parts to our military, American officials are negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will increase trade with nations in the Pacific. China's response to these good faith negotiations has been to currency manipulation to offset any gains made on behalf of American companies in the trade agreement. I support an effort being made by a coalition of manufacturers who are pressing U.S. trade officials to include rules in trade agreements preventing deliberate currency manipulation. We must insist that nations with which we trade adhere to the rules and allow American goods into their markets.

The most blatant case where the trend of giving away jobs to a foreign country can be found is in America's relationship with China. Even the way U.S. officials talk about that relationship is indicative of why we are losing ground to them every day in trade and in manufacturing. U.S. officials refer to China as a "partner" while the Chinese think of us as a competitor. In a match up where one side is partnering and the other is competing, we know who is going to get the short end of the stick.

As complex and serious as these problems are, I believe the solutions are relatively simple. Taxpayer dollars should be used to buy American made products whenever possible. This is especially true with regard to military equipment. Vendors, government procurement agents and enforcement agents who do not play by the rules should be punished. Foreign nations that do not honor the law or the agreements of international trade regulations should be denied access to our markets.

I've fought to strengthen the Berry Amendment, which requires that military uniforms and apparel be made in the United States, because we've seen such coordinated efforts to violate these laws. I've pushed to extend these provisions to the Department of Homeland Security because I got sick and tired of knowing that the uniforms worn by our Customs and Border Protection agents were made in Mexico.

We have all seen unfair trade deals and government ineffectiveness and apathy nearly destroy the textile industry and a way of life that had flourished in our region for generations. I'm in public service in large part because I had seen too many good people suffer at the hands of a government content with giving jobs away to other countries as if they were part of some foreign aid package. I will not waver when it comes to the protection of jobs or the protection of our troops or our diplomatic missions. As a nation, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, from the proud veterans that kept us free to the millworkers and manufacturers who built our economy. We must never jeopardize the safety and livelihood of either, and I will fight each and every day to oppose those who try.