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Congressman Bruce Poliquin

Representing the 2nd District of Maine

Rep. Poliquin Continues to Push Department of Defense to Use Maine-Made Products

March 9, 2016
Press Release
Poliquin urges Armed Services Committee to include bipartisan language in NDAA to help Maine shoe manufacturing jobs

WASHINGTON – This week, Maine’s Second District Congressman, Bruce Poliquin, sent a letter to Members of the House Armed Services Committee urging them to support American manufacturing jobs by providing enlisted recruits in our military with equipment and athletic shoes that are fully Berry Amendment compliant, a provision which requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to use American-made products when available.

 

New Balance, an employer of more than 900 hardworking Mainers, has committed to reengineering its manufacturing operations to produce an athletic shoe that is 100% American made and fully compliant with the Berry Amendment.  Congressman Poliquin has been leading the effort in having our Nation’s Military Men and Women use these Maine-made products.

 

Congressman Poliquin released the following statement:

 

“I urge the Committee to implement the Berry Amendment and to require the Department of Defense to use materials that are made here in America, specifically the top-of-the-line athletic shoes that are manufactured in Maine’s Second District” said Congressman Poliquin. “Our businesses and workers in Maine produce the best shoes in America and provide more than 900 jobs for hardworking Mainers.”

 

Congressman Poliquin sent this letter just days after he testified before the Armed Services Committee on the matter.

 

Congressman Poliquin and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3) have crafted language to include in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the DOD to use American-made products.  The House Armed Services Committee oversees the formation of the NDAA each year.

 

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Full text of Congressman Poliquin’s letter to Members of the House Armed Services Committee:

 

March 8, 2016

 

 

The Honorable Mac Thornberry

Chairman of the Armed Services Committee

2208 Rayburn House Office Bldg.

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Chairman Thornberry,

 

As you know, last week, I testified before the House Armed Services Committee about the importance for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to provide fully American-made and sourced athletic shoes to enlisted recruits during initial entry, or Basic Training. I know this issue well because New Balance manufactures the highest quality athletic footwear in the world -- 100% American-made by 900 skilled, hard-working craftsmen in my District and by 2,000 workers in the Massachusetts 3rd District represented by Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.

 

Since 1941, the Berry Amendment law has required the Pentagon to only purchase completely American-made and sourced clothing, textiles, and footwear for our men and women in uniform. During the past few years, New Balance has invested millions of dollars to re-engineer its manufacturing operations to produce an athletic shoe 100% made in America, in full compliance with the Berry Amendment. At least three other domestic footwear companies are ready to follow suit as noted by the Secretary of Defense during 2014 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.

 

Already, the Navy has made the decision to provide new recruits with "Assembled in the USA" New Balance shoes. While not 100% Berry Amendment compliant, these shoes are as close to Berry compliant as any being provided to recruits today. Recently, the Coast Guard decided to issue 100% Berry compliant shoes to enlistees even though it is not subject to the law. Additionally, Customs and Border Patrol offers its patrol personnel Berry compliant shoes.

 

Two of three New Balance Berry Amendment compliant platforms, the stability and neutral models, have passed the DOD's rigorous wear and durability tests. A recent Pentagon report entitled "Literature Review on Health Impacts of Running for Various Foot Types and Appropriate Shoe Characteristics to Address Recruits' Needs" concluded that enlisted recruits are best served by beginning Basic Training with new, high quality running shoes which are comfortable and fit properly -- the specific competitive advantages of wearing 100% American-made New Balance footwear. The study further concludes that injury risk increases when recruits wear lower quality minimalist running shoes during Basic Training.

 

Enlisted recruits are directly issued most of their supplies, gear, and equipment for Basic Training through the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), including boots and dress shoes. Doing so avoids the inconvenience and approximately 30% additional cost to U.S. taxpayers of providing stipends to recruits and then requiring them to procure the items at the military Exchanges. Currently, new recruits are forced to purchase their athletic shoes for Basic Training through this expensive roundabout resale system. Recruits are not provided with an array of choices in this process.

 

Frankly, I am concerned that the current system incentivizes some Exchanges to provide recruits, using taxpayer-funded cash allowances, with lower quality, less expensive, foreign-made shoes in order to maximize profit margins even though such shoes could increase the risk of injury.

 

Currently, U.S. taxpayers spend on average $85 per pair of running shoes for new recruits through the costly Exchange markup and resale process. If issued directly through the DLA like most other supplies, gear and equipment, recruits could receive a pair of top quality, completely American-made athletic shoes for roughly $74 per pair -- saving nearly $1.7 million per year for U.S. taxpayers by providing our 151,000 brave new recruits each year with the highest quality running shoes in the world, 100% made in America.

 

In summary, I ask the U.S. House Armed Services Committee to include language crafted and submitted by me and Congresswomen Niki Tsongas in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act which requires the Department of Defense to do what is fair and right, and to support U.S. manufacturing jobs -- not 30% military Exchange markups -- by providing enlisted recruits with fully Berry Amendment compliant and, thus, completely American-made athletic shoes.

 

Thank you,

 

 

Congressman Bruce Poliquin

Maine’s 2nd District

 

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Click HERE to see a PDF version of Congressman Poliquin’s letter to members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Click HERE to see Congressman Poliquin’s testimony before the House Armed Services Committee last week.

 

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