Column: American-Made Equipment for our American Servicemen and Servicewomen
Made in America. Those words mean a lot to American workers. Those words mean that a hardworking American family is earning a paycheck. Those words mean that a business, right here in America, is choosing to employ American citizens rather than export jobs overseas. Those words mean quality.
New Balance Athletic, Inc. employs 900 Maine craftsmen across our State, in Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Norway, who work hard to make the highest quality athletic shoes in the world. The company, like many throughout our Nation, has chosen to keep its plants in the United States and to send paychecks home to American workers. It’s important that these businesses and these hardworking Mainers have the support and policies in place to remain competitive, grow and create more American jobs.
The Berry Amendment is a provision that Congress passed in 1941 which requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to purchase American-made clothing, textiles and equipment for military recruits whenever possible. In reality, the Berry Amendment does two things: 1) it ensures that our servicemen and servicewomen are provided with the highest-quality, American products, and 2) it makes sure that the funding that is used to supply our military members with equipment goes to American companies, made by American workers, whenever possible.
Manufacturers in Maine and across our Nation, like New Balance, have invested in their production to make sure that their American-made clothing is fully Berry Amendment compliant, meaning that their products meet all of the Made in America standards and pass the rigorous quality testing that the provision requires.
However, since the 2002 Fiscal Year, the DOD has in many ways ignored this rule. The DOD has issued cash allowances to new recruits for training shoes, which are not required to be American-made or Berry Amendment-compliant.
The members of our Armed Services, who sacrifice so much to defend our freedom, should have the highest-quality American equipment available, and I’m confident that American workers are best for the job. The Pentagon should make certain they follow the law and adhere to the Berry Amendment.
That is why I am proud to have Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA-03) join me in introducing the Stepping Up for American Workers and Troops Act.
This bill will make sure the Berry Amendment is fully implemented, providing our men and women in the Armed Services with high-quality, American-made equipment, some made here in Maine, when serving to protect our freedom.
This bipartisan legislation ensures that the Pentagon provides our military members with athletic shoes that are made right here in America, by American workers.