Measure supporting American athletic footwear manufacturers, like New Balance, included in final National Defense Authorization Act to be passed in coming days
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Representative Bruce Poliquin today announced that the final 2017 National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision championed by them 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 athlete shoes upon arrival at basic training.
The provision, which is set to be approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate in the coming days, will be implemented over the course of the next two years and 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 significant victory for American jobs and respected American manufacturers like New Balance who will now be able to compete for contracts to provide domestically produced athletic footwear to military recruits. For far too long, the Department of Defense has failed to apply the Berry Amendment to athletic footwear, and American manufacturers have paid the price,” Senators Collins and King and Representative Poliquin said in a joint statement. “With the successful inclusion of this provision, Congress and the Pentagon will finally prioritize and reward U.S. companies for creating and maintaining good-paying jobs here in the U.S. and will equip American troops with high-quality American-made athletic footwear. We will relentlessly push the Department of Defense to fully implement this already-overdue provision.”
The provision included in the final 2017 National Defense Authorization Act is similar to the Buy American Act introduced by Senators Collins and King and the Stepping up for American Workers and Troops Act introduced by Representative 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 again successfully defended its inclusion in May despite strong opposition from special interest groups who attempted a floor vote to nullify the language. 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.
“New Balance is proud to be the only major company that still makes athletic footwear in the United States. We are grateful that the U.S. House and Senate has again agreed that our military’s domestic purchasing requirements as stated by law need to be followed. On behalf of the hundreds of men and women in our five New England shoe factories, we want to thank Senator King, Senator Collins and Representative Poliquin for their tireless advocacy in serving the state of Maine,” said Rob DeMartini, President and CEO, New Balance.
The final provision, which survived a conference committee between the House and Senate following the advocacy of Senators Collins and King 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 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.