U.S. Sen. Susan Collins took the opportunity of a Department of Defense budget review to once again call on the military to buy American-made shoes, a promise the department made two years ago.

Collins, a Republican senior member of the Appropriations Committee, told Defense Secretary Ashton Carter she was disappointed in the department’s continuing refusal to comply with the Berry Amendment while he was testifying at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing reviewing the department’s fiscal year 2017 budget request Wednesday, according to a news release from Collins’ office.

The Berry Amendment requires the U.S. military to provide its personnel with American-made equipment and uniforms to the greatest extent possible and the defense department agreed in 2014 to start buying U.S.-made athletic shoes for recruits rather than giving them vouchers to buy their own athletic shoes. The department already issues similar items such as combat boots and service shoes, according to the release.

The move would be a boon to New Balance, which has three shoe manufacturing plants in Maine, in Skowhegan, Norridgewock and Norway, that employ about 900 workers. The company is one of a few that manufactures athletic shoes in the U.S.

“Let me just express to Secretary Carter my disappointment in the department’s reversal of its commitment to provide American-made athletic footwear to new recruits,” Collins said. “Under the longstanding Berry Amendment, our troops are supposed to be outfitted with clothing and footwear that is made in this country, and that’s why I have recently introduced legislation that has been cosponsored by several of my colleagues to require the Department to follow the law.”

Last week, Collins and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, introduced bipartisan legislation that would require the defense department to provide initial entry service members with American-made athletic shoes upon arrival at basic training. “This bill is part of a years-long effort focused on ensuring that our troops are equipped and outfitted with high-quality uniform items made in the United States. It also supports domestic manufacturing and protects hundreds of jobs for hardworking and dedicated American workers,” the release said.

The military has said that no U.S.-made shoes comply with the Berry Amendment requirements, but New Balance has manufactured a shoe in the past year that the company says is “100 percent Berry-compliant.”


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