Following news that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) outsourced to China production of opening ceremony uniforms for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced they will introduce the "Team USA Made In America Act of 2012" next week. 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.
"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," said Senator Menendez. "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."
"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," stated Senator Lautenberg.
"The U.S. Olympic Committee was 100% 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."
"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," said Schumer. "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."
Senator Gillibrand said, "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."
"Our athletes--and the apparel they wear--should represent America," said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who wrote to the U.S. Olympics Committee yesterday urging it utilize American manufacturer's for this year's uniforms. "We know how to make things in America, which is why it's such an embarrassment that Chinese factories were used to manufacture Team U.S.A'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."
The bill 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 be sewn or assembled in the United States with fabrics formed and cut in the United States or components knit to shape from yarns wholly formed in the United States. If the USOC can't meet the procurement requirement, they would have to provide a detailed justification for sourcing from overseas.