After Olympic Controversy, Senator Announces "Wear American Act of 2012" to Boost U.S. Apparel IndustryJuly 20, 2012
Following the news that the Olympic opening ceremony uniforms that will be worn by American athletes are entirely made in China—spurring bipartisan outrage and resulting in new commitments by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) to make 2014 uniforms in America—U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announced a new effort to boost domestic apparel and textile manufacturing. Brown is introducing a "Buy America" plan to ensure that the federal government purchases apparel that is 100 percent American-made. Current Buy America statutes require that only 51 percent of these products purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars be "made in America."
"Manufacturing helped make this country great," Brown said. "Good-paying manufacturing jobs have allowed hundreds of thousands of Americans to buy homes, send their children to college, and retire with security. But for too long, we've seen American manufacturing jobs—including textile and apparel jobs—shipped overseas due to unfair trade that has stacked the deck against American workers."
"We know how to make things in America, and the textile sector employs more than half a million workers in the United States—which is why the federal government should be purchasing, whenever possible, apparel that is domestically produced. With our widening trade deficit, we should be doing everything we can to support American manufacturing and job creation," he continued.
Brown's bill, the Wear American Act of 2012, would revise an existing law requiring that 51 percent of federal agency purchases of textiles and apparel be made on products made in the United States, and require that textile and apparel articles acquired for use by federal agencies be manufactured from articles, materials, or supplies entirely grown, produced, or manufactured in the United States. It would provide flexibility to federal agencies in the event that such textiles and apparel are either not sufficient or unavailable for production in the United States.
Following the report on the Olympic uniforms, Brown called on the U.S. Olympic Committee to utilize American clothing manufacturers for this year's uniforms and use domestic clothing makers for future Olympics, including the 2014 Winter Games. The 2012 uniforms cost $1,945 for men, and $1,473 for women, and include items such as a $495 shirt and a $498 skirt. Today, following a meeting with USOC Chairman Scott Blackmun and Chairman of the Board Larry Probst, Brown led a group of senators on a letter to the USOC asking it to meet with American manufacturers for future USOC uniform demands, and offering to connect the USOC with these manufacturers.