Following news that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) outsourced to China production of opening ceremony uniforms for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, nine U.S. senators introduced on Monday, July 16, the Team USA Made In America Act of 2012. Among the senators introducing the legislation were: Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg, both D-N.J.; Bob Casey, D-Pa., Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
The legislation would require the USOC, a federally chartered non-profit entity, to adopt a procurement policy that requires ceremonial uniforms the USOC purchases or commissions be sewn or assembled in the United States.
The “Team USA Made In America Act of 2012” would:
Amend the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act to require the adoption of a procurement policy that requires ceremonial uniforms for U.S. Olympians, including accessories, such as ties, belts, shoes, and hats meet the standards of the Federal Trade Commission for labeling as ‘Made in USA.’
Require the USOC to provide a detailed justification for sourcing from overseas if it could not meet the procurement requirement.
Take effect 90 days after enactment and would also compel a report from the USOC 90 days after enactment on actions taken by the Committee to comply with the Act.
Here’s what the senators said when the issue first arose:
From Menendez: “When our Olympic athletes proudly represent our nation abroad, they should be showcasing the best of American made products. American manufacturers would be proud to produce the uniforms for Team USA and there’s no question they can compete on quality and price. At a time when too many Americans are looking for work and our manufacturers are closing factories, we need to do everything we can to keep jobs in America and not give the work of producing our iconic American uniforms for our Olympians to China. I call on the USOC to do the right thing for this summer’s team, and I call on my colleagues to help pass this bill to ensure we don’t find ourselves in this appalling, embarrassing situation before the opening of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.”
From Lautenberg: “Olympians symbolize our pride for America and it’s outrageous that their uniforms aren’t being made in America. While American textiles manufacturers are struggling, the Olympic Committee should be leaders in supporting American jobs and manufacturing.”
From Casey: “The U.S. Olympic Committee was 100 percent wrong to outsource the manufacturing of U.S. uniforms for the opening ceremony to China,” Senator Casey said. “This measure will help ensure that moving forward, work on our Olympic uniforms will help create jobs in America and not China.”
From Shumer: “Team USA is seeing red instead of red white and blue, and it is clear that the U.S. Olympic Committee should start over and provide the U.S.-made uniforms these athletes deserve. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation that will require Olympic uniforms to be made in America, supporting American workers who could do the job better than anyone else. Our Olympians don’t train their entire lives to don Chinese ceremonial uniforms – we owe them better than that. With this legislation, we’ll be able to make this situation right to support America’s economy and workers.”
From Gillibrand: “When America’s best athletes are representing our country on the world stage, we should be representing the best of American-made goods. The pride of our Olympic athletics goes hand in hand with the pride of American innovation and manufacturing. We shouldn’t be going to the world stage with anything less. From head to toe, Team USA must be made in America.”
From Brown: “Our athletes – and the apparel they wear – should represent America. We know how to make things in America, which is why it’s such an embarrassment that Chinese factories were used to manufacture Team USA’s uniforms. If awards were given out for breaking trade laws, China would win the gold medal. The U.S Olympic Committee’s use of Chinese-made apparel is particularly egregious due to the ongoing and unfair competition that China poses to American manufacturers. The U.S. Olympic Committee should take steps to ensure that domestic clothing makers are used for Olympic uniforms – if possible, for this summer’s games, and for future contests, including the 2014 Winter Olympics.”