Today, Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree introduced a bill to reverse the Department of Defense's (DOD) avoidance of the Berry Amendment, which requires DOD to purchase American-made military uniforms. For decades the military issued servicemembers American-made uniforms, including athletic footwear. Since 2002, DOD has skirted the law when it comes to footwear by issuing new recruits cash allowances for training shoes.
The bill introduced today requires DOD to comply with the Berry Amendment by treating the purchase of athletic footwear in the same way as other uniform items. The introduction of today's bill builds on legislation Michaud introduced in 2011 to accomplish the same goal and could help companies like New Balance that manufacture footwear in the United States.
"This is something the Obama Administration can do right now to boost the economy and ensure that our military is outfitted from head to toe in American-made uniforms," said Michaud. "It's long past time that the Defense Department complies with the letter and spirit of the law. It's not only the right thing to do, it could provide a shot to the arm to companies like New Balance that employ hundreds of Mainers in Norway, Norridgewock and Skowhegan."
In addition to introducing legislation, Michaud has brought the United States Trade Representative to Maine to visit a New Balance facility. He has also given both President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama a pair of New Balance sneakers made in Maine to drive home the point. Michaud has also pressed his case with executive branch and military officials in Washington.
"This legislation is good for American workers and in particular good for athletic shoe manufacturers here in our state," said Pingree. "Congressman Michaud has been a real leader on this issue and it's a cause that Maine's entire congressional delegation is behind."
Senators Collins and King are introducing a companion bill in the Senate.