American athletes at the Summer Olympic Games will be wearing uniforms made in China. It has been a hot topic in the news this past week as Americans continue to wrestle with the issue of just when and if we should require Americans to buy American.
Last year, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer presented a series, “Made in America,” focusing on American manufacturing and our economy, encouraging Americans to tackle the question, “What difference would it make if everyone promised to buy more American-made products?”
Legislation has now been introduced in Congress to require that anything you buy in a gift store in a national park would have to be made in this country. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced S.2268: American Parks, American Products Act, which would require that items sold in certain federal gift shops be produced in the United States. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The wording of the bill is as follows:
(a) National Park Service- The Secretary of the Interior shall ensure that all items offered for sale in any gift shop or visitor’s center located within a unit of the National Park System are produced in the United States.
(b) National Archives and Records Administration- The Archivist of the United States shall ensure that all items offered for sale in any gift shop of the National Archives and Records Administration are produced in the United States.
A nearly identical bill (HR. 3415) was introduced in the House of Representatives in November 2011 by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY2) and has been referred to the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The difference in the introduction of the two bills was one word – “help.” Sen. Gillibrand’s bill eliminated that word in the sentence, “To help ensure that all items offered for sale in any gift shop of the National Park Service or of the National Archives and Records Administration are produced in the United States, and for other purposes.” Gillibrand’s bill omits that word, to make the language stronger.
“This is common sense legislation to stamp products sold at America’s national parks with the words ‘Made in America’, said Gillibrand in a prepared statement. “The pride of our national parks goes hand in hand with the pride of American-made products and our strong manufacturing tradition. The American Parks, American Products Act has the potential to support manufacturing jobs and showcase American craftsmanship.”
The majority of stores that would be affected by this legislation are operated by contractors, doing more than $1 billion in business each year.