World Bulletin/News Desk
Ralph Lauren's stylish uniforms for the U.S. Olympic team, complete with a jaunty beret, have sparked a political row because the red, white and blue outfits were made in China.
With U.S. unemployment hovering just above 8 percent, politicians have spoken out against the uniforms for the London Games, which start later this month, and six Democratic senators said they plan to introduce legislation requiring the ceremonial uniforms be produced in the United States.
"At a time when too many Americans are looking for work and our manufacturers are closing factories, we need to do everything we can to keep jobs in America and not give the work of producing our iconic American uniforms for our Olympians to China," Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey said in a statement announcing the measure.
The senators said they will introduce the "Team USA Made In America Act of 2012" next week.
"I call on the USOC (U.S. Olympic Committee) to do the right thing for this summer's team, and I call on my colleagues to help pass this bill to ensure we don't find ourselves in this appalling, embarrassing situation before the opening of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics," Menendez said.
The Committee said in a statement late on Friday that it was too late to change the outfits ahead of the summer games in London, but it had agreed with Ralph Lauren to make apparel for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in the United States.
"With athletes having already arrived in London, and the apparel distribution process beginning this weekend, we are unfortunately not able to make a change for London," it said.
"We are absolutely committed, however, to working with our sponsors to ensure that the concerns voiced are addressed. To that end, Ralph Lauren has agreed to domestically manufacture Team USA's apparel for Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games."
The proposal from Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg, of New Jersey, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Sherrod Brown of Ohio would amend the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, which specifies requirements and rules for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and its members.
A spokeswoman for Menendez said it would be limited to ceremonial uniforms because some athletes may require specific high-performance items for their sport uniforms that simply aren't produced in the United States.
The move follows criticism of the uniforms from both political parties on Thursday.
Rep. Steve Israel, a Democrat from New York, said the issue was not just about a label, but an economic solution.
"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," he said.
House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, echoed that criticism.
"You'd think they'd know better," Boehner told reporters.
The U.S. Olympic Committee defended its decision to have Lauren design the outfits and oversee the manufacturing process.
"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," spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement.
"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." It urged Americans to "rally around" Team USA athletes who have "dedicated their entire lives to training for this one moment."
Ralph Lauren Corp said in a statement it "promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government to ... increase manufacturing in the United States."
The proposed budget limits new spending to Can$5.7 billion (US$4.3 billion) over six years -- about 10 times less than the Liberals' inaugural budget last year.
Tillerson, ex-CEO of ExxonMobil, says he was persuaded by his wife to enter Trump administration as America's top diplomat
Martin Kobler makes assertion amid continued reports of grievous rights violations across troubled nation
Police officer stabbed to death, attacker shot dead by police with a woman dead after dozens plowed down by car on nearby bridge
McCain said he met recently with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the two spoke about the Kurdish issue.
Interior Minister Marco Minniti praised the police team that tracked Santo Vottari down to a building which had no fewer than four concealed bunkers in it.
Found guilty last year of bribery, the verdict and sentence are the first of their kind in the history of the ICC.
On Tuesday, Washington and London announced a ban on laptops and computer tablets in cabins on flights from Turkey, as well as several countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta on Monday published more details on the laundering case.
By mid-April more than 800 British troops and nearly 300 French troops will be stationed in Estonia. A Danish contingent will replace the French later this year.
Omar Barghouti, who has headed the campaign for boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel was arrested by Israeli authorities yesterday
New German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomes Ankara’s recent steps to calm tensions, urges end to Nazi comparisons
At least three people have been injured and others trapped after a train travelling to Switzerland derailed
Visit is first trip to Sudan by Tunisian PM since toppling of Ben Ali regime in 2011
Army’s 9th Armored Division wrests two more villages of western Mosul from Daesh terrorist group
Scottish debate suspended after London Parliament attack