I did a post on this on the Cato blog here. Here's an IELP version. (You can see the difference in tone with what I say on this blog!)
We now have the technical details of the Olympic uniform controversy, as the proposed Senate legislation is available. Some key excerpts:
(a) In General- The [United States Olympic Committee] shall adopt a policy with respect to uniforms to be worn by athletes during ceremonies that are part of the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, or the Pan-American Games that requires the [United States Olympic Committee]–
(1) to purchase or otherwise obtain only uniforms that meet the requirements described in subsection (b); or
(2) to make publicly available a detailed justification of the reasons the corporation purchased or otherwise obtained uniforms that do not meet those requirements.
(b) Requirements- A uniform meets the requirements described in this subsection if the uniform, including accessories, such as ties, belts, shoes, and hats, meets the standards of the Federal Trade Commission for labeling as `Made in USA’.
First off, I doubt the commercial quantitities at issue here will lead to a WTO complaint. But just for fun, let's talk about the legislation as if it might be challenged (assuming it is passed into law).
Is there a "measure" to challenge here? I have seen the USOC described as a "private" organization. However, it is federally "chartered" under U.S. law. So what exactly is the USOC in terms of its relationship to government? Are its acts those of a government? What if those acts are based on legislative orders from the government?
Second, the USOC does not actually have to use domestically made uniforms, as long as it can provide a detailed justification for why it did not. Presumably, acceptable reasons will relate to the absence of domestic goods. Should any challenge wait to see how the USOC actually applies this law? Do they, in effect, have the discretion to act consistently with international trade law?
Another passage from the legislation says:
(d) Compliance With Trade Agreements- The policy adopted under subsection (a) shall be applied in a manner that is consistent with the obligations of the United States under all applicable trade agreements to which the United States is a party.
I can't figure out what they have in mind here. How could this be implemented consistently with trade obligations (aside from the discretion point above)? Could the USOC be considered a government entity, and any purchases deemed to be non-covered purchases under the GPA?