* Article originally posted on RollCall.com.
As the House slogs through more than 400 amendments to the annual Pentagon policy bill, debate has centered on the deployment of U.S. troops to the southern border, a potential ban on some lower-yield nuclear weapons, war authorizations and … flatware.
Yes, flatware. Cutlery. Knives and forks and spoons. One of the 439 amendments put forth would require the Defense Department to buy “stainless steel flatware” and “dinner ware” from domestic, rather than foreign, manufacturers.
The amendment, sponsored by New York Democrat Anthony Brindisi and West Virginia Republican David B. McKinley, was approved 243-187 on Thursday. If the amendment survives Senate negotiations on the bill and is signed into law, it would restore a clause of the Berry Amendment, a recurring feature in defense authorizations that was permanently codified in 2002.
It also would be a parochial win for the amendments’ sponsors — something that, prior to the 2011 ban, would have been labeled a backdoor earmark.
Oneida County’s Sherrill Manufacturing, the last Made-in-the-U.S.A. flatware company, is in Brindisi’s district. And McKinley’s district is home to the Homer Laughlin China Company, which manufactures Fiesta dinnerware, one of the few domestic producers of plates and bowls.
The Berry Amendment restricts Defense Department procurement to domestically manufactured goods in many cases, including the purchase of food, textiles and footwear. Until 2006, according to Brindisi, it also extended to flatware, a requirement that was only removed due to a temporary failure in domestic flatware supply.
“This amendment would support American manufacturers, ensure our service members are using safe flatware and dinnerware, and leaves the Department of Defense flexibility should American-made flatware not be available or affordable,” Brindisi said.
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