Every year, four million visitors go to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History where they can see such priceless treasures from George Washington as one of his military uniforms and the top hat Abraham Lincoln wore the night of his assassination. But a big problem has come to light. Some Congressmen discovered that items on sale in the Smithsonian gift shop are made in China. Miniature busts of our greatest presidents sold in the gift shop are stamped with a very un-American inscription: "crafted in China." The gift shop is selling T-shirts with the text of the U.S. Constitution on it that is labeled "made in Nicaragua."
The Smithsonian Museum is largely maintained by taxpayers' money. The Smithsonian gift shops sell almost $44 million in merchandise every year. Several Congressmen are very upset about these "made in China" products. Rep. Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat, says, "It is utterly absurd and frankly insulting that the patriotic American mementos Americans are buying at the Smithsonian are stamped with the words Made in China." He said the foreign-made items are an "Insult to American workers and artisans." Congressman Rahall has introduced a bill called "Buy American at the Smithsonian Act." This bill would prevent the Smithsonian from using federal money to construct or improve any of its buildings unless all items in its gift shops are American made.
Smithsonian executives replied that they buy American-made products whenever possible, but many souvenirs just aren't made in the United States, so they feel forced to buy Chinese merchandise. Congressmen don't accept that excuse. I agree with these Congressmen and hope the Smithsonian changes its policy and refuses to sell any patriotic American products unless they are made in the good old U.S.A.
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