March 10, 2011

Rahall Urges Smithsonian to Sell Americana Made in America

-Bill Would Cut off Funding if Smithsonian Continues to Sell Products Made in China-

Washington, D.C.– Following media reports documenting the Smithsonian museums’ widespread practice of selling gift shop items manufactured in China, U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, yesterday introduced legislation to help foster growth of American jobs by compelling the Smithsonian to sell only items made in the United States.

“For generations, Americans have flocked to their Nation’s Capital to celebrate our shared history, buying keepsakes from the Smithsonian and elsewhere to commemorate their visits,” said Rahall. “It is utterly absurd, and frankly insulting, that the patriotic American mementoes they are taking home today are stamped with the words ‘Made in China.’”

Rahall’s “Buy American at the Smithsonian Act of 2011” (H.R. 983) would prevent the Smithsonian from using appropriated funds to construct a building or materially alter a building unless all the items for sale in any gift shop of the Smithsonian are produced in the United States.  The Smithsonian hosts an estimated 30 million visitors annually.  Last year alone, the Smithsonian gift shops sold almost $44 million in merchandise.

“When more products are made in America, more middle-class families can make it in America as well,” said Rahall.  “With millions of Americans out of work, we should be doing everything we can to create jobs in the U.S. and the legislation I am introducing today would end an insult to American workers and artisans by requiring the Smithsonian to sell Americana made in America.”