Congress fights US Navy in order to keep iconic peacoat

The "Lone Sailor," complete with peacoat. (Commons)

Congress is currently locked in a battle to save an iconic item of Navy clothing- and the jobs that go along with it.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee responded to the Navy’s decision to replace the historically significant peacoat with a rain parka by adding language to a defense spending bill requiring the Navy to explain the decision and consider the impact on the nation’s textile manufacturing industry.

“The Navy would essentially be deleting a part of history, a fashion that is strongly identifiable with sailors,” said Jennifer Daley, a war studies researcher at King’s College London.

The decision would affect more than the historic aspects of the traditional Navy clothing item- jobs would be affected as well.

“This is affecting employment and local economies,” said Richard Littlewood, fifth generation owner of G. J. Littlewood and Sons Inc. of Philadelphia, who dies the wool for the 400,000 Navy peacoats made annually by Boston-based Sterlingwear.

The defense spending bill in question passed through the House two weeks ago and is headed to the Senate.

However, not everyone is happy. Taxpayers for Common Sense. Vice President Steve Ellis said the fight over the peacoat has less to do with keeping American companies in business and more to do with protecting heavy-hitters in affected congressional districts.

“These ‘Buy America’ provisions are a new form of backdoor earmarking to pick winners and losers,” Ellis said.

According to the Tahlequah Daily Press, the peacoat is an icon- it is immortalized by the US Naval Memorial in Washington, which depicts a lone sailor warming his hands in the pockets of his peacoat.

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