Lawmakers were outraged Thursday after an ABC World News report revealed that the U.S. Olympic team’s opening ceremony outfits are made in China. Some suggested making a bonfire with the outfits, which include berets and blazers.
“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., said when asked by ABC News today, “If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, that is what they should wear.”
Get the latest news on the U.S. Olympic uniforms Thursday night on World News with Diane Sawyer.
Team USA will be marching into the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony wearing Ralph Lauren blazers and berets, much as they did four years ago when Lauren dressed them. ABC’s Sharyn Alfonsi reported Wednesday evening that every clothing item that the U.S. athletes will be wearing at the opening ceremony in London will carry an overseas label.
Reid said today that the U.S. Olympic committee should be “ashamed of themselves,” and “embarrassed,” that the items were made in China, especially with people in the textile industry in America who are looking for jobs.
The Congressional reaction on Capitol Hill today extended to both houses and both parties.
“You’d think they know better,” Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH., said in response to a question from ABC News today.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that since the Olympic athletes represent the very best in America they should be wearing uniforms made in America.
“They work so hard. They represent the very best, and they’re so excellent. It’s all so beautiful. And they should be wearing uniforms that are made in America.”
Already there is a movement on Capitol Hill to make changes so this does not happen again at future Olympic Games. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., wrote a letter Thursday morning to the chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Lawrence Probst, calling this revelation “shocking and deeply disappointing” and asking all U.S. team’s uniforms be made in America in the future.
“We are asking that the Committee and its Board of Directors take immediate steps to guarantee that this embarrassment does not happen again by voting that any future contracts for Olympic uniforms are made in America,” Gillibrand and Israel write in their letter, “This would ensure that U.S. Olympians are supporting American jobs. As American fans cheer for our Olympians, we should also be cheering for the American manufacturers and laborers reflected in the red, white and blue on their uniforms.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH., who has legislation pending in Congress to strengthen “Buy America” provisions for federal tax dollars also sent a letter to U.S. Olympic Committee today calling for the group to scrap this year’s uniforms and find a domestic manufacturer to remake them.
“The USOC holds its athletes to a high moral and ethical standard, and has a no tolerance policy for cheating or violating rules,” Sen. Brown writes in his letter to Chairman Probst, “But China continues to cheat when it comes to international trade. As we work to achieve a level playing field for American manufacturers and workers, the USOC should act immediately to find a domestic manufacturer for this year’s uniforms.”
Brown calls for the USOC to enact policies to ensure that America’s athletes wear only clothing that is Made-in-America in the next 2014 games.
ABC News reached out to Ralph Lauren and the U.S. Olympic Committee Wednesday and asked why American-made clothing had not been selected for the athletes. The committee responded with a statement: “The U.S. Olympic team is privately funded and we’re grateful for the support of our sponsors. We’re proud of our partnership with Ralph Lauren, an iconic American company.”