Congressmen: U.S. Soldiers Need American Running Shoes

New Balance employs 900 workers at its three manufacturing plants in Maine. Photo: Bangor Daily News

The delegation from Maine is leading a new push to enforce a decades-old law.

There is a push for members of the U.S. Military to dress more like Americans, which starts with their running shoes.

The two U.S. senators from Maine, Susan Collins and Angus King, along with their counterparts in the House of Representatives, Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, have introduced a bill that would require new recruits to receive a pair of American-made running shoes when they join the service.

By default, this would mean New Balance would be the chosen shoe maker, since that is the only major shoe company that manufactures running shoes in the U.S.

There is one minor detail, however: Three of the company’s five factories are located in Michaud district. The other two are in Massachusetts. The Maine plants employ a total of 900 workers.

The proposed legislation is nothing new. In fact, it’s already a law. The Berry Amendment, passed in 1941, made it a requirement for the military to use American-made gear for its soldiers, airmen, seamen and other members of the armed forces.

According to a story in the Bangor Daily News, a “loophole” has kept the law from being enforced for running shoes. Soldiers are given the choice as to what shoes they want to wear, and the military reimburses them.

“It’s long past time that the Defense Department complies with the letter and spirit of the law,” Rep. Michaud said. “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.”

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