By DONNA CASSATA July 12, 2012
Uniforms for U.S. Olympic athletes are American red, white and blue — but made in China. That has members of Congress fuming.
Republicans and Democrats railed Thursday about the U.S. Olympic Committee's decision to dress the U.S. team in Chinese manufactured berets, blazers and pants while the American textile industry struggles economically with many U.S. workers desperate for jobs.
"I am so upset. I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference on taxes.
Ralph Lauren also is dressing the Olympic and Paralympic teams for the closing ceremony and providing casual clothes to be worn around the Olympic Village. Nike has made many of the competition uniforms for the U.S. and outfits for the medal stand.
"It is not just a label, it's an economic solution," said Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y. "Today there are 600,000 vacant manufacturing jobs in this country and the Olympic committee is outsourcing the manufacturing of uniforms to China? That is not just outrageous, it's just plain dumb. It is self-defeating."
Israel urged the USOC to reverse the decision and ensure U.S. athletes wear uniforms that are made in America.
Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., separately sent letters to Lawrence Probst III, chairman of the USOC, complaining about the made-in-China uniforms. Brown suggested that the USOC find a manufacturer with a facility in the United States, suggesting the Hugo Boss plant in Cleveland.