After Olympic Controversy, Senator Announces “Wear American Act of 2012” to Boost U.S. Apparel Industry

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.

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  • Alpha Male

    Don’t think Union!

  • FindingPromo

    Give me a break. Are we going to require that the Swimmers’ goggles are USA Made? The Sprinters’ Track Shoes? The Crew Racers’ Boats? The Tennis Balls? This is upside down. The manufacturers need to make products that are priced competitively first, and let the market decide, not the government.

    Our Apparel manufacturing has moved offshore, because our industries became too expensive, archaic and non-competitive, compared to some others around the world.

    This is not an issue about child labor or fair wages. There are plenty of socially compliant manufactures around the world, that have simply done a better job.

    Airplane Manufacturers, Auto Manufacturers and others have found ways to compete and deliver using an international supply chain, with final assembly here in the USA.

    Let’s not wait for government to demand that we buy USA, let’s get the manufacturers to design and deliver it competitively, first.

  • Janusz J Bruks

    Sen Brown’s Bill should also include, and perhaps be foremost , that all OUR nations flags and military uniforms be manufactured in this country.

  • USAmade

    "FindingPromo", in my opinion it IS about fair wages. I own a successful apparel company whose products are 100% USA-made, by a textile mill in the South. China has so far gobbled up the low-hanging fruit of the global manufacturing sector – the low-end, labor-intensive goods (i.e. apparel) in which China has a clear advantage. The Chinese workers put in a lot more hours at lower cost. (What one deems as "socially complian manufacturingt" may make another frown.) So it’s still cheaper today to manufacture in China. A main reason why our U.S. textile mill can’t compete with the Chinese manufacturers is because the U.S. mill pays fair, liveable wages to their employees.

    A big part of Chinese manufacturing is the simple assembly of products designed elsewhere with components produced elsewhere, which means China is some cases is not adding very much value to the products it produces in factories. But China wants to make the cars, planes and chips that Americans manufacture – in other words, China intends to move “up the value chain,” into heavier industries or tech-based manufacturing that require the kind of skill and experience Americans already have. Hence, why the U.S. airplane, and auto manufacturers are able to compete internationally.