U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin joined an event today at the New Balance factory in Skowhegan, celebrating the "Made-in-USA" footwear provision written into the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.
The provision calls for incoming members of the armed services to be issued U.S.-made athletic shoes at basic training. The provision will be implemented over the next two years.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill soon.
The final provision, which survived a conference committee between the House and Senate following the advocacy of Sens. Collins and King and Rep. Poliquin, mandates that the Department of Defense consider athletic footwear issued to military recruits as subject to the Berry Amendment, requiring the Pentagon 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.
New Balance, which is based in Boston, has three factories in Maine.
Photo: Sandy Dover/Flickr
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