Rep. Larry Kissell went back to his textile roots in getting his first amendment as a member of Congress adopted Wednesday.
The freshman Democrat who represents parts of Charlotte and surrounding counties got a “buy American” provision attached to the $819 billion stimulus bill, approved by the House on Wednesday.
The measure would expand a rule that military uniforms be completely made and assembled in the United States to the clothing worn by Transportation Security Administration officers who monitor airports and other transportation systems like trains and subways.
“This is an opportunity to put Americans to work and keep them at work,” Kissell told his colleagues during debate on the House floor. “What could be better than putting our taxpayer money for that purpose and to put uniforms on the people that serve us?”
Kissell worked in the textile industry for 27 years before becoming a high school civics teacher in Montgomery County. In November, he beat longtime GOP Rep. Robin Hayes with a campaign that promised to help create local jobs.
It's unclear how many jobs are at stake.
A TSA spokeswoman says that while the fabric for the shirts that the agency's 50,000 security officers wear is already made in the United States, they are assembled in Honduras and Mexico. She wasn't sure about the manufacturing of the uniform pants.
Kissell downplayed the personal milestone of having his first measure passed. The Senate must also approve the stimulus bill with Kissell's amendment for it to become law.
“The good feeling is if this goes on and passes ... it will help American workers,” he said.