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Rep. Israel Demands Only American Products Be Sold At National Parks

Long Island Congressman Said He Was Outraged After Visit To Grand Canyon

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Long Island U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that it is ridiculous that most of the products sold in our national parks are made in other countries and has since proposed legislation to do something about it.

As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, Israel recently took a trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona and visiting the gift shop left him outraged.

He said nearly every item was made in a country other than the United States of America.

“Grand Canyon jigsaw puzzle made in China; Grand Canyon thermal t-shirt made in Pakistan; Grand Canyon snow globe made in China,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall on Wednesday. “I had to work hard to find one table that was devoted to ‘Made in America.'”

And the Grand Canyon is not the only place full of imports, Israel said.

“The fact that this Liberty Bell tie was made in China makes no sense to me,” he said. “What would make more sense is if it was made in America.”

Israel is now pushing a bill to require gift shops at the national parks around the country to sell items made in the U.S. exclusively.

“We should just have a simple requirement. This is not a 10-point plan, not a controversial deal,” he said. “Simple requirement, we should require the National Park Service to sell American products in American parks.”

The Sagamore Hill Historic Site in Oyster Bay on Long Island is celebrated as the home of the nation’s 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. It was known as his “Summer White House.”

But, sure enough, inside the gift shop merchandise is prominently displayed that was made in China, Mexico and El Salvador.

“I think we have to go back to our own grass roots, and this is the place to start,” said Kay Grillotti of Elmont, “because everybody, sooner or later, comes to the national parks.”

But vendors said it is not as easy as Israel believes. Items made in the U.S. are more expensive for retailers to purchase and then sell.

“At this point, I mean, it’s 2013. We’ve been buying stuff from other countries for 50 years; 100 years now — and now to switch back to American?” one vendor said. “It’s going to take a while. But they should do it.”

Israel contended that once things change, prices will drop.

“Right now, it is expensive to manufacture in America. We’re competing with low-cost labor abroad,” Israel said. “But if the National Park Service said, ‘We’re going to sell products,’ that would gear up manufacturing entities.”

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