Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle berated the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) for allowing the American team to wear uniforms made in China. The USOC shot back saying they were proud of the uniforms, made by private U.S. company Ralph Lauren.
"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-N.Y.) told reporters Thursday.
"If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says 'U.S.A.' on it, painted by hand, then that's what they should wear," Reid added.
In a particularly humorous act of partiotism, Reid Communications Director Adam Jentleson even tweeted a picture of the congressman's suit label, reading "Made in U.S.A."
Other congresspeople from both sides of the aisle join him in their condemnation after news of the story was broken by ABC on Wednesday night.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh.) and DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) also criticized the move, as did Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.).
USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky shot back soon after the remarks were made, stating "unlike most Olympic teams around the world, 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, and excited to watch America's finest athletes compete at the upcoming Games in London," Sandusky added, highlighting the popular fashion house is "an American company that supports American athletes."
But lawmakers did not let up. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D.Y.) also complained of the choice, suggesting in letters sent to USOC Chairman Lawrence Probst III the $795 men's blazers and $495 women's skirts be scrapped and re-done in domestic factories.
Although the USOC has contracted non-U.S. companies to make official gear, such as the Canadian-based Roots company that made the 2002 Salt Lake City games' signature berets, the lagging U.S. economic situation has worsened the 'made in China' uni case.
There "is no reason why U.S. Olympic uniforms are not being manufactured in the U.S. This action on the part of the U.S. Olympic Committee is symbolic of a disastrous trade policy which has cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and must be changed," Sen. Sanders said.
The 'made in China' story broke as the Obama administration is in the midst of pushing back against an increasingly strong China on the world stage.
Just a week ago, the U.S. filed an official trade complaint with the WTO on China unfair practices toward U.S. automakers. Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged China to come into compliance on international maritime security while at the annual ASEAN conference.
Lawmaker anger over the issue is not random. Election season and the ailing economy has made Americans increasingly suspicious of Chinese growth, and vice versa. And this will only increase heading toward the November election.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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