WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a significant win for domestic shoe manufacturers including New Balance in Maine, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced today that the U.S. Senate has passed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with a provision he championed that will require 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. Senator King wore his Maine-made New Balance shoes today as he cast his vote in favor of the legislation, which will now head to the President’s desk for his signature to become law.
Senator King secured the provision in the NDAA during the Senate Armed Service Committee’s consideration of the bill earlier this year. The provision will be implemented over the course of the next two years and could help support the jobs of hundreds of Maine manufacturing workers. The passage of this provision represents the culmination of a long-fought battle by the Maine Congressional delegation.
“The long-awaited and hard-fought passage of this measure is a landmark victory for American shoe manufacturers, like New Balance, who will finally have the opportunity to compete to provide entry-level recruits with high-quality, American-made athletic shoes,” Senator King said. “I could not be prouder of the hardworking men and women at New Balance, and I’m thrilled this bill will reward their efforts by supporting American companies that prioritize keeping good-paying jobs here in the United States, even as other companies ship their work overseas. I urge the President to sign this measure into law quickly, and I will track its implementation closely.”
The NDAA also includes several other victories for Maine that Senator King was able to secure as a member of the Senate Armed Services, including robust funding for shipbuilding and military construction projects, and additional funding to combat the drug epidemic.
“Thousands of Mainers have dedicated themselves to serving in our Armed Forces and to working in defense-related industries that support our national security interests day-in and day-out, and I’m pleased this bill reflects and supports their critical contributions to the defense of our nation,” Senator King said. “This legislation takes important steps to advance shipbuilding priorities at Bath Iron Works and critical construction projects at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and it continues to provide additional opportunities for Maine manufacturers like Pratt & Whitney – all of which are victories for our national defense and our state’s economy.”
More specifically, the additional wins Senator King secured include:
- FUNDING FOR SHIPBUILDING PRIORITIES: The bill authorizes $3.5 billion for Navy destroyer programs, including $271.8 million for the construction of DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyers – all of which are being built at Bath Iron Works – and $3.3 billion for the procurement of two DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in Fiscal Year 2017, one of which will be built at Bath.
- 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 lays the groundwork to appropriate the remaining funding necessary to build it.
- MILITARY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS: The bill authorizes $17.8 million for unaccompanied housing at Portsmouth Navy Shipyard (PNSY) to provide housing for the crew of submarines; $30.1 million for utility improvements of nuclear platforms at PNSY; and $27.1 million to construct a replacement medical/dental clinic at PNSY. Senator King specifically requested these authorizations.
- FULL PER DIEM FOR PNSY WORKERS ON LONG-TERM TEMPORARY DUTY: The bill would authorize the Navy to provide full per diem to public shipyard workers traveling on long-term temporary duty. The provision is based on legislation introduced by Senator King and Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would modify the existing, flawed Department of Defense long-term temporary duty policy for shipyard workers conducting off-yard maintenance.
- NO NEW BRAC ROUND: This legislation rejects the President’s call in his Fiscal Year 2017 budget request for additional base closures under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. The last BRAC process occurred in 2005 when the Pentagon's recommendation to close the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was ultimately overturned by the BRAC Commission, but their recommendation to realign Brunswick Naval Air Station was rejected in favor of closing the base.
- JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER: The bill authorizes the procurement of 63 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters of all three variants. Several Maine-based companies, including Pratt & Whitney in North Berwick and General Dynamics in Saco, are in the supply and production chain for this fifth generation fighter.
- LONG RANGE STRIKE-BOMBER: The bill authorizes $1 billion for procurement of a new long-range stealth bomber, B-21, which will be a central pillar of our national security strategy to deal with future threats. Pratt & Whitney in North Berwick will produce components for the B-21’s engine.
- DEFINITION OF CYBERWAR: The bill includes language similar to legislation authored by Senators King and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) that would require the Administration to develop options for deterring threats in cyberspace and determining what types of actions in cyberspace may warrant a military response.
- FIGHTING THE OPIOID AND HEROIN EPIDEMIC: The bill includes a provision, offered by Senator Kelly Ayotte and supported by Senator King, that would ensure that at least $191.5 million will be dedicated to counter the production and trafficking of illicit drugs, including heroin and fentanyl.
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.