WASHINGTON — Members of the House textile caucus introduced a bill last week that would require the Bush administration to take into consideration the impact of trade deals on the domestic apparel and textile industries.The measure, in part, is designed to heighten government officials’ attention on how competition from low-priced imports has negatively affected U.S. textile and apparel businesses and the twin sectors needs. However, as the bill points out, the sectors still employ a combined 964,000 workers, despite steep job losses over the last decade, and contribute $48.3 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.The White House has already pledged to increase its efforts to support the domestic textile and apparel industries, as part of a deal to garner trade bill votes from House Republicans representing textile-producing states.Sponsors of the bill want to ensure that the administration’s help will be long lasting. In addition to factoring in the impact of trade bills on domestic mills and apparel makers, the bill also calls for increased efforts to keep illegal imports out of the country and to lower foreign tariffs and other barriers to U.S. textile and apparel exports.Rep. Howard Coble (R., N.C.), co-chairman of the House textile caucus, said the bill underscores lawmakers’ "commitment to working with the executive branch to ensure that the remaining textile and apparel jobs stay within our borders."The bill received kudos from the American Textile Trade Action Coalition, headed by the textile-apparel union UNITE and textile companies Milliken & Co. and Cranston Print Works."It is critical for Washington policy makers to begin to acknowledge the tremendous value the U.S. textile and apparel sector contributes to our communities, our military and our economy as a whole," George Shuster, ATTAC co-chair and president of Cranston Print Works said in a statement.

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