Senators Collins, King Introduce the Buy American Act of 2016

Legislation will bolster American manufacturing, support American jobs, and ensure our service members are issued high-quality and American-made uniform items

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation today that would require the Department of Defense to provide initial entry service members with American-made athletic shoes upon arrival at basic training.  This bill is part of a years-long effort focused on ensuring that our troops are equipped and outfitted with high-quality uniform items made in the United States.  It also supports domestic manufacturing and protects hundreds of jobs for hardworking and dedicated American workers. 

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 refused to issue new recruits athletic footwear made in America, though it issues similar items such as combat boots and service shoes.   

The bipartisan Buy American Act of 2016 would mandate that the Department of Defense comply with the law and treat athletic footwear like every other uniform item.  All service members should be provided high-quality, uniform items that are made in our country by American manufacturers and produced by American workers.

“I am disappointed and perplexed that the Department of Defense continues to string along American companies like New Balance, while failing to align its policies with the mandates of the Berry Amendment, especially when hardworking men and women across our country make some of the finest shoes available,” said Senator Susan Collins. “The bipartisan Buy American Act of 2016 is our latest effort to ensure that American workers, who can meet the footwear requirements of nearly all of our military service members, are given the opportunity to do so.” 

“The hardworking men and women of New Balance have proven that they can produce athletic footwear that meets not only the standards of the Berry Amendment, but also the needs of our servicemen and women,” Senator Angus King said. “Now that New Balance has done its part, it’s time that the Defense Department meets its responsibility to provide entry-level recruits with American-made athletic footwear like the Berry amendment intended. By bringing the Pentagon’s practices in line with the law, our legislation will ensure that those who serve our country have the finest American-made footwear available, bolster domestic manufacturing, and support good jobs in Maine and around the country.”

Senators Collins and King introduced similar legislation in 2013 to require that any footwear furnished or provided by cash allowance to members of the Armed Forces upon initial entry to the Armed Forces shall comply with domestic source requirements.  On June 9, 2014, Senators Collins and King urged then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work to publish guidelines by which companies can offer Berry Amendment-compliant athletic footwear to be tested.

The Buy American Act of 2016 is the Senate companion bill to the Stepping up for American Workers and Troops Act introduced on April 13, 2016, by Representatives Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Niki Tsongas (D-MA).