The Associated Press reports
that Democrats and Republicans alike slammed the U.S. Olympic Committee's
decision to use Chinese-made berets, blazers and pants at a time when the American textile industry is reeling and millions of Americans remain unemployed.
"I am so upset," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday. "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."
"They should be wearing uniforms that are made in America," added House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
"You'd think they'd know better," House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) quipped.
But the USOC issued a statement defending its decision to use Chinese-made uniforms, citing its corporate partnership with American fashion icon Ralph Lauren
, who designed the clothes.
"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," the statement read. "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."
In addition to dressing Team USA for the Opening Ceremonies, Ralph Lauren is also providing clothes for the Paralympic team and for athletes to wear during the Closing Ceremonies and while hanging out in the Olympic Village.
USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky called the controversy over the Chinese-made uniforms "nonsense."
Ralph Lauren, he wrote, "financially supports our team."
"An American company that supports American athletes," he insisted.
But his argument wasn't winning over many members of Congress.
"Today there are 600,000 vacant manufacturing jobs in this country and the Olympic committee is outsourcing the manufacturing of uniforms to China," Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) fumed to the Associated Press. "That is not just outrageous, it's just plain dumb. It is self-defeating."
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, called the use of Chinese-made uniforms "symbolic of a disastrous trade policy which has cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and must be changed."
Ironically, Fox News reports
that Ralph Lauren claims the uniforms aim to embody "the spirit of American athleticism and sportsmanship."
Fox News also reports that this isn't the first time that Team USA's uniforms were made in China. The team's clothing for the 2008 Opening Ceremonies in Beijing, China were also Chinese-made.
The London Games
begin on July 27.