DoD Announces Plans to Ensure All Service Members Wear American-Made Footwear

Apr 25, 2014 Issues: Manufacturing
Michaud on tour of Norridgewock factory with New Balance CEO Rob Demartini, then-USTR Ron Kirk, and plant manager Raye Wentworth, September 2012.
DoD Announces Plans to Ensure All Service Members Wear American-Made Footwear

Following years of leadership and advocacy from Rep. Michaud, DoD will comply with Berry Amendment

WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Defense announced today it will take steps to ensure it complies with the Berry Amendment – a law requiring DoD to give preference to American-manufactured goods when making procurement decisions. According to DoD, service members will be required to use their footwear allowance to purchase athletic footwear that is compliant with the Berry Amendment. Congressman Mike Michaud has advocated for years on this particular issue, and has engaged with a wide range of U.S. officials – including the U.S. Trade Representative, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and President Obama himself – urging them to act in compliance with the Berry Amendment when procuring footwear for service members.

“Today’s decision is a tremendous victory for American manufacturers who, day-in and day-out, produce high-quality goods – like New Balance sneakers,” said Michaud. “It only makes sense that we equip our country’s bravest men and women with products made by some of our country’s hardest working manufacturers. Today’s decision is truly a win-win for everyone and is an example of the kind of action we can take to ensure we have the backs of American workers. I’d like to thank President Obama and Defense Secretary Hagel for taking this important step.”

Rep. Michaud has led efforts around compliance with the Berry Amendment for years. A full list of his accomplishments is available here: http://michaud.house.gov/MaineFootwearJobs.  Some of the major advocacy efforts over the last few years include:

  • April 28, 2010: In response to DOD’s unsatisfactory response to his inquiries, Mike worked with Reps. Larry Kissell (D-NC) and Howard Coble (R-NC), a House Armed Service Committee Member, to insert an amendment into the House-passed Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization bill that required GAO to study the DOD’s use of the cash allowance. (Not in final bill)
  • July 7, 2011:  Mike successfully got amendment to DOD authorization passed that said no funds in the bill can be spent in violation of the Berry amendment requirements. (Not in final bill)
  • August 2011:  Mike visited the New Balance Skowhegan plant as part of his Made in Maine Tour.
  • September 9, 2011: Mike led a letter with the Maine and Massachusetts House Delegations to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), stating that TPP negotiations cannot and should not undermine the U.S. footwear industry.
  • September 16, 2011: Mike continued to press DOD on compliance with the Berry Amendment, and introduced the American Shoes for American Servicemembers Act to address this problem. This bill simply clarified what was already in current law: that the Berry Amendment covers footwear. This commonsense legislation makes Congressional intent explicit and ensures that all components of our troops’ uniforms, including their physical training uniforms, are made in the U.S.A.
  • September 16, 2011: Mike appealed to President Obama in a letter urging him to force DOD to fully comply with the spirit and the intent of the Berry Amendment.
  • September 30, 2011: To continue to raise awareness of this issue at the highest levels, Mike presented First Lady Michelle Obama with a pair of New Balance sneakers when she visited Maine.
  • February 2012:  Mike pressed President Obama’s economic advisor, Gene Sperling, on the benefits and effectiveness of an Executive Order instructing the Secretary of Defense to fully comply with the Berry amendment.
  • March 30, 2012: Mike hand-delivered Maine-made, personalized sneakers to President Obama and in their face-to-face conversation implored him to force DOD to comply with the Berry Amendment.
  • July 2012:  Mike organized a press conference with Maine New Balance workers in D.C. to urge Obama to fight to preserve footwear tariffs as the negotiations for TPP got underway. And Mike organized a meeting with the New Balance workers and USTR Ron Kirk to discuss the domestic footwear industry.
  • September 13, 2012:  USTR Kirk visited the New Balance Norridgewock facility as a result of an invitation Mike extended during their July meeting. It was the first American footwear facility the USTR had ever visited.
  • In numerous meetings with administration officials, Mike has raised this issue, making the same points that he made to the President—complying with the Berry Amendment is the right thing to do. Our soldiers deserve to wear uniforms that are 100 percent American-made.
  • October 23, 2012: Mike teamed up with Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and more than 50 of their bipartisan colleagues, to send a letter to DOD urging full compliance with the Berry Amendment.  In following-up, Mike continued to press this issue again with the President and with his highest-level staffers as well as with the USTR and various officials at the Department of Defense.
  • May 14, 2013: Mike arranged a meeting with Army Undersecretary Joseph W. Westphal and New Balance to discuss getting the Army to procure Berry-compliant athletic footwear for Army recruits.
  • June 14, 2013: Mike successfully passed an amendment with Rep. Niki Tsongas(D-MA) to the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization bill that would force DOD to directly supply new military recruits with Berry-compliant athletic footwear instead of providing a cash allowance. The amendment made an exception for any recruit that is medically determined to need different footwear than the Berry-compliant options. After the successful inclusion of the amendment in the House bill, the Senate failed to include a similar provision. As a result, the final defense bill contained weak language that does not require DOD to comply with the law.
  • June 29, 2013: Mike toured a New Balance factory with USTR Michael Froman.
  • December 2013:  Mike had two pairs of New Balance Berry-compliant shoes delivered to the USTR and the Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, along with Berry compliance certifications for each component of the shoe.
  • February 4, 2014: While at the White House for a meeting with the President on 2014 Legislative priorities, Mike asked the President to issue an Executive Order requiring DoD to comply with the Berry amendment.
  • February 13, 2014: Talked to DoD Acting Deputy Secretary Christine Fox to urge DoD to comply with the Berry Amendment