It would be logical to assume that when the United States Department of Defense outfits American soldiers with everything from uniforms to training gear, the articles are purchased from American manufacturers and made by American workers.

Unfortunately, that would be a false assumption, something two members of Congress are aiming to correct with legislation to force the Obama administration to comply with a requirement that has been in place for 75 years.

If passed, the requirement would mean orders for 150,000 pair of new training shoes – and jobs for nearly 1,400 New Balance employees in Maine and Massachusetts.

The 1941 law requiring the military to buy American-made equipment and uniforms has excluded running shoes – also known as “sneakers,” “gym shoes,” and “trainers” –for years because it was hard to find all-American-made shoes.

Even after the domestic market improved, the DoD still refused to “Buy American” citing high costs and deficiencies in durability, instead allowing troops to purchase the running shoes of their choice using DoD-issued vouchers.

Now, U.S. Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) are forcing the Obama administration’s Defense Department to comply with the law by hitting it where it hurts – its federal funding.

The Tsongas-Poliquin amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act makes the federal funding for the Department of Defense contingent upon its compliance with the requirement to buy American-made training shoes for troops.

“If you’re going off to fight on behalf of our country, you should be wearing items that are made in our country,” Tsongas said, “and we have some excellent American-made shoes available to suit the needs of our military recruits.”

Last week, the amendment was approved by the House Armed Services Committee and passage in the House seems likely, although it is not clear how the Senate will vote.

Both houses are controlled by a Republican majority.

 

 

 

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