The House will vote on an amendment (#380) offered by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) to H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019. This amendment would reinstate stainless steel flatware to the Berry Amendment, effectively limiting the Department of Defense (DOD) to just one source for flatware products.
The Berry Amendment was first passed during World War II to ensure the U.S. military was contracting with U.S. companies that produced certain goods domestically. While the amendment may have made sense during WWII for national security purposes, the need for this protectionist policy is no longer justifiable.
Tori Whiting, research associate in the Center for Free Markets and Regulatory Reform at The Heritage Foundation, writes in a recent report called "Buy American Laws: A Costly Policy Mistake That Hurts Americans":
Domestic content requirements (including the Berry Amendment) create costly regulatory hurdles for producers, costing American taxpayers more than they would otherwise pay for government projects, and are unlikely to result in job growth in target industries. Rather than strengthening these laws, Congress and the Administration should eliminate all domestic content laws and create an economic environment in which private business can grow and flourish.
The amendment offered by Rep. Tenney would not only increase costs for American taxpayers, it would limit choice for the DOD to the current benefit of a single company that is ironically located in the Congresswoman's district. Whiting called the policy proposal "a textbook example of the type of government cronyism that plagues Washington" because it "would currently benefit a single domestic company, Sherrill Manufacturing," which is in the district of the amendment's primary sponsor. "This move would result in higher prices for flatware for the military, a wasteful use of scarce defense dollars," Whiting concluded.
Injecting protectionism, parochialism and cronyism policy into U.S. armed forces is misguided. This amendment fails to advance U.S. national security interests or increase military readiness and should be rejected by the House of Representatives.
Heritage Foundation: “Buy American” Laws: A Costly Policy Mistake That Hurts Americans
Heritage Foundation: The 2019 NDAA Must Continue to Rebuild the Military and Make It More Efficient