In a rare bipartisan move, a group of 59 members from the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter appealing the U.S. Olympics Committee to ensure that future Team U.S.A.’s uniforms are made in the United States. Led by Representatives Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and Mike Michaud (D-Maine), and supported by the National Council of Textile Organizations and the AFL-CIO, the lawmakers said they were “outraged” that the USOC chose to produce the athletes’ sportswear in China rather than boost the domestic textile industry.
“We don’t outsource the athletes who represent the United States in the Olympics and we shouldn’t outsource the manufacturing of Team U.S.A.’s uniforms,” Stark said in a statement. “The fact that our American uniforms were made in China is a glaring reminder that we’ve gotten away from a core value: our country’s success is built on the innovation and industriousness of the American worker. When we deviate from that, we fail. That is why we’re calling on the U.S. Olympic Committee to reflect these values and ensure that Team U.S.A.’s uniforms are made in America.”
On Monday, nine senators introduced the “Team U.S.A. Made in America Act of 2012.”
On Monday, nine senators introduced legislation that would require the USOC to do just that. Any failure to comply would obligate the group to submit a detailed justification of why it wasn’t able to meet the procurement requirement. The “Team U.S.A. Made in America Act of 2012” will also amend the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, which grants monopoly status to the USOC.
“Team U.S.A. should wear uniforms that evoke more than just an image, but actual labor from workers and raw materials from America,” the letter to Scott Blackmun, CEO of the USOC. “The Ralph Lauren Corp. claims that the uniforms ‘embody’ the spirit of our country. This is not enough. American manufacturing is critical to the soul of the country. The U.S. textile and apparel industry provides the backbone to many cities and towns. These American companies are capable of making these uniforms at competitive prices.”
Capitulating to critics, Ralph Lauren has pledged to make its opening- and closing-ceremony uniforms for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the United States. Looks like Capitol Hill isn’t taking any chances, however.