U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine has inserted into the Senate version of the proposed 2017 National Defense Authorization Act a provision to require the Department of Defense to provide American-made athletic shoes to new military recruits when they arrive at basic training.

The same provision was inserted into the House version of the bill in late April by U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine.

King, an independent, said Thursday in a statement that the provision, if approved by the House and Senate, “will support domestic manufacturing, protect jobs for dedicated American workers, including hundreds in Maine, and help ensure that American troops are equipped and outfitted with high-quality uniform items made in the United States.”

The defense authorization act, which sets the budget and policy for the defense department, needs approval from the House and Senate. Passage of the new provision would provide a boost to New Balance, which employs 900 workers at factories in Skowhegan, Norridgewock and Norway and has developed a shoe that complies with Defense Department standards.

Previous language in the act allowed the Department of Defense to bypass the Berry Amendment, which requires the military to buy uniforms, including shoes, from U.S. manufacturers.

The department has said that no U.S.-made athletic shoes comply with the Berry Amendment requirements, including that all of the elements used in making the shoe are U.S. products. In 2014, the defense department promised to start providing athletic shoes to military members as long as they met the guidelines, and in 2015 New Balance said it had developed a shoe that did so.


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