May 12, 2016
BRUNSWICK, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced today that he has successfully added a provision to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the Department of Defense to comply with the Berry Amendment by providing initial entry service members with American-made athlete shoes upon arrival at basic training. The provision, if finally passed into law, will support domestic manufacturing, protect jobs for dedicated American workers, including hundreds in Maine, and help ensure that American troops are equipped and outfitted with high-quality uniform items made in the United States.
“This amendment is a huge victory for the hardworking men and women in Skowhegan, Norridgewock, and Norway who have worked day in and day out to make some of the best, highest-quality athletic shoes available,” Senator King said. “Our government should be doing all it can to advance policies that support them – not ship their jobs overseas. By requiring the Pentagon to bring its practices in line with the law, this amendment will ensure that those who serve our country have the finest American-made footwear available and support good jobs here in Maine and across the country.”
“This is a monumental victory for New Balance and for Maine,” said Matt LeBretton, Vice President of Public Affairs for New Balance. “Without the outstanding leadership of Senator King and Senator Collins, this simply would not have been possible. At the end of the day, this will mean jobs for Maine people.”
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator King successfully offered as an amendment to the NDAA a provision mandating the Department of Defense to comply with the Berry Amendment for athletic footwear issued to new recruits. The Berry amendment, passed in 1941, requires the U.S. military to provide its personnel with American-made equipment and uniforms to the greatest extent possible. Despite this long-standing law, the Department of Defense has not previously issued new recruits athletic footwear that is compliant with the Berry Amendment, though it issues similar Berry compliant items such as combat boots and service uniforms. Under the King provision in the NDAA, the Defense Department would be required to treat athletic footwear like other uniform items. It is identical to both an amendment secured in the House-version of the NDAA by Representative Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine-2) and legislation introduced by Senator King and Senator Susan Collins earlier this year.
“The inclusion of this amendment in the FY2017 NDAA is welcome news for our military members and the nearly 1,000 Maine employees at New Balance. Senator King and I have long urged the Department of Defense to fully comply with the Berry Amendment and provide service men and women with the highest quality athletic shoes manufactured by U.S. companies like New Balance,” Senator Collins said. “As part of this effort, we introduced the Buy American Act earlier this year, and I applaud Senator King’s diligent efforts as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to ensure our legislation was included as an amendment in the Committee’s final bill. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Senator King on this important issue.”
Senator King also secured several other major victories for Maine in the 2017 NDAA, including:
Of the $3.2 billion in procurement for the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, Senator King was able to authorize an additional $50 million in funding for the DDG-51 that was authorized and partially funded last year due to the work of Senators King and Susan Collins. That ship has since been identified by the Navy as one of its top unfunded priorities, and this authorization secured by Senator King today lays the groundwork to appropriate the remaining funding necessary to build it.
The Fiscal Year 2017 NDAA establishes policies and authorizes funding for the Department of Defense as well as the national security programs of the Department of Energy. It provides for the pay and benefits earned by members of the military and their families, provides for national defense including authorization of funds for counter-ISIL operations in Iraq and Syria, and represents a vision of America’s national security goals, resources, and policies. The legislation was approved today by the Senate Armed Services Committee and is expected to move to the Senate floor in the coming weeks.