House Passes Made-in-USA Legislation Championed by Rep. Poliquin, Protecting Hundreds of Maine Jobs
WASHINGTON – In a milestone victory for hundreds of Maine manufacturing jobs—after a hard-fought, months-long battle—the U.S. House of Representatives passed the final version of the NDAA today that includes critical language pushed forward by Congressman Bruce Poliquin (ME-02) to ensure the Department of Defense (DOD) follows the law and issues American-made athletic shoes to its new recruits.
Congressman Poliquin, who wore his own red, white and blue, 100% American-made New Balance athletic shoes down to the House floor to cast his vote, released the following statement:
“This is a milestone victory for our Great State of Maine, for our families, and for 900 of the hardest working folks in the world,” said Congressman Poliquin. “This is a win that Mainers have long been waiting for. After a months-long and hard fought battle, I am absolutely thrilled that today we have finally pushed this monumental language through the House. I’m not going to let up an inch until we get this to the President’s desk, signed into law and fully implemented.”
“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 Representative Poliquin for his tireless advocacy in serving the state of Maine,” said Rob DeMartini, President and CEO, New Balance.
For the past several months, Congressman Poliquin has resiliently advocated and taken strong legislative action to push the DOD to comply with the Berry Amendment, the provision which requires the Pentagon to use American-made products for recruits whenever possible.
Now, the NDAA will go to the Senate for a final vote. If passed, it will go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
This final provision, which was maintained in the NDAA during the conference committee between the House and Senate due to strong support from Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Congressman Poliquin, mandates that the DOD 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 is a provision in law that requires the DOD to use American-made products for new recruits whenever possible. However, since 2002 the DOD has circumvented this policy by issuing cash allowances to new recruits for training shoes, which are not required to be American-made or Berry Amendment-compliant. In 2014, the DOD agreed to change its policy and close this footwear loophole. Despite that announcement, more than two years later, the DOD has yet to actually implement it and rectify this fundamental inequity in the application of the Berry Amendment.
Timeline of Progress:
- March 2016: Rep. Poliquin testifies in front of the House Armed Services Committee supporting the use of quality American products for our Military Men and Women
- April 2016: Rep. Poliquin successfully pushes language to be added to the Defense bill to enforce the Berry Amendment
- May 2016: Rep. Poliquin’s Language in NDAA Passes House in Landmark Victory for Hundreds of Maine Jobs
- June 2016: Rep. Poliquin successfully urges hundreds of his colleagues on the House Floor to vote down an amendment that would have stripped Made-in-America language
- September-November 2016: The House and the Senate go to conference to hash out the differences in the two chambers’ versions of the NDAA
- November 2016: The final version of NDAA—including the crucial Made-in-America language—is released and set to be voted on
- December 2, 2016: The House passes the final version of the NDAA with the language included
Items to Note:
- Rep. Poliquin introduces Stepping Up for American Workers and Troops Act to require DOD to adhere to longstanding law ensuring American troops our outfitted with American-made goods
- Rep. Poliquin sends letter to Armed Services Committee urging them to include bipartisan language in NDAA to help Maine shoe manufacturing jobs