Bruce Poliquin helps support 900 jobs at top-quality athletic shoe manufacturers across Maine.

Bruce Poliquin

After months of strong advocacy and legislative action from Congressman Bruce Poliquin, the House Armed Services Committee formally included language in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will ensure the Berry Amendment is fully implemented by the Department of Defense (DOD).

Congressman Poliquin released the following statement:

We have won a victory in the battle to grow and protect the 900 jobs in Skowhegan, Norridgewock and Norway where hard working Mainers manufacture the highest quality shoes in the world,” said Congressman Bruce Poliquin.  “After months of working closely alongside my Democratic colleague Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and tirelessly pushing the Pentagon to purchase American-made training shoes, we are proud to announce this critical win for Maine families and jobs in our State.

“This is a win for the American taxpayer as well because tax money should be spent with American workers and products, not foreign manufacturing, wherever possible.  I will continue to do all I can to support Maine workers.”

Congress passed the Berry Amendment in 1941, which required the DOD to purchase, to the greatest extent possible, American-made clothing, textiles and more in order to ensure American soldiers trained and operated with American-made uniforms and equipment. However, since FY 2002 the DOD has circumvented this policy as it relates to athletic footwear 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 has continued to draft its feet.

Accordingly, Congressman Poliquin and Congresswoman Tsongas have successfully offered this language into the NDAA that requires the DOD to complete the policy change and adhere to the Berry Amendment without using cash allowances for athletic shoes that sidestep the law. In circumventing the policy, it is estimated that DOD has spent approximately $180 million on athletic footwear and the cash allowance program – critical funds that could have gone to American jobs and manufacturing.

American companies, including New Balance located in Maine and other parts of New England, have developed the ability to produce 100% Berry compliant athletic shoes.