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Mrs. BUSTOS. Mr. Chairman, the purpose of this amendment is simple. It would ensure that American flags purchased with funds from this bill are actually made in America. Pretty simple, straightforward, common sense.
Currently, here is what's happening: the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security, and even the U.S. Capitol are free to buy American flags that are only 50 percent made in the United States of America. I find this astonishing.
There are companies in America that manufacture American flags. Pretty logical. And there have been legislative efforts in the past to make sure that American flags purchased by the Federal Government are actually made in America.
Last Congress, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio was able to secure passage of the All-American Flag Act through the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent. Unfortunately, the House was unable to consider the measure prior to adjourning the last session of Congress.
According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, the value of American flags imported to the United States last year alone was $3.8 million; $3.6 million worth came from China alone. A ``Made in China'' tag should never be sewn into an American flag, let alone American flags purchased by our Federal Government.
My amendment today is an attempt to address the growing practice of importing American flags not actually made in America. The idea for this came about just last week when I was home listening to veterans all over our district. I was in Rockford, Peoria, the Quad Cities, and Galesburg, Illinois. I listened to veterans from the gulf war, from the Vietnam war, from World War II, and had gentlemen stand up so disheartened by the fact that they had flown flags, they had seen flags that had a ``Made in China'' tag sewn into them.
So it is my hope that this Congress will engage further on this issue; but until that time, I feel it necessary to offer this amendment. We must send a clear message as to what our expectations are.
With that in mind, and using existing law as a guide, this amendment would ban purchases of any flag declared as a foreign end product in Buy American Act certifications required by all Federal contracts. This amendment is just the first step in what I hope is a larger effort to require that all American flags purchased by the Federal Government are actually made in America.
I hope my colleagues here today will support me in this endeavor and work with me in moving forward on future, similar efforts.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
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