President Signs Defense Bill Into Law, Securing 900 Maine Shoemaking Jobs
WASHINGTON – Today, President Obama signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, marking the end of a months-long, hard-fought battle led in the House by Congressman Bruce Poliquin (ME-02) to secure 900 Maine shoemaking jobs at New Balance. The bill that was signed into law today includes critical language championed by Congressman Poliquin and Senators Susan Collins and Angus King to require the Department of Defense (DOD) to follow the law and issue American-made athletic shoes to its new recruits. Congressman Poliquin released the following statement:
“This has been a long and hard-fought battle, but today it’s finally done,” said Congressman Poliquin. “The 900 shoemakers at New Balance in Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Norway are the hardest working individuals in the world and unquestionably deserve this huge win. I applaud New Balance’s leadership in keeping jobs here in America and in our State of Maine. Today, their investment in Maine workers has paid off.”
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.
This final provision, which was maintained in the NDAA during the conference committee between the House and Senate due to strong support from Congressman Poliquin and Senators Collins and King, 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 8, 2016: The Senate passes the final version of the NDAA
- Today: The NDAA is officially signed into law
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