December 23, 2016
BRUNSWICK, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today praised the President’s signing of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which ushers into law a provision he fought for that requires the Department of Defense to consider athletic footwear subject to the Berry Amendment by providing initial entry service members with American-made athletic shoes upon arrival at basic training. The provision, which will be implemented over the course of the next two years, will support domestic manufacturing, protect jobs for dedicated American workers, including potentially hundreds in Maine, and help ensure that American troops are equipped and outfitted with high-quality uniform items made in the United States.
“This is a momentous victory that the hardworking men and women of New Balance have long deserved,” Senator King said. “For far too long, the Department of Defense had failed to apply the Berry Amendment to athletic footwear for new recruits, but New Balance’s employees remained undeterred, manufacturing the highest-quality athletic shoes here in Maine day-in and day-out. Today, their efforts have paid off and New Balance will be able to compete for future contracts to provide athletic footwear to recruits. I am incredibly proud of their work and pledge to continue to fight for them every day in the Senate.”
The provision included in the final 2017 National Defense Authorization Act is similar to the Buy American Act introduced by Senator King and Senator Susan Collins as well as the Stepping up for American Workers and Troops Act introduced in by Representative Bruce Poliquin. Both bills were introduced earlier this year. Representative Poliquin successfully pushed for adoption of the language in the House-version of the NDAA in April, and Senator King, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, fought to successfully add the legislation as an amendment to the Senate-version of the NDAA during the Committee’s markup of the bill in May.
Last week, Senator King was joined by Senator Collins and Representative Poliquin at New Balance’s factory in Skowhegan to recognize the company’s Maine workers and celebrate the “Made-in-USA” footwear provision that became law today.
The final provision, which survived a conference committee between the House and Senate following the advocacy of Senators King and Collins and Representative Poliquin, mandates that the Department of Defense consider athletic footwear issued to military recruits as subject to the Berry Amendment, requiring the Department to treat athletic footwear for new recruits like other uniform items. 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, and despite the fact that it issues similar Berry Compliant items such as combat boots and service uniforms, the Department of Defense has not previously issued new recruits athletic footwear that is compliant with the Berry Amendment.