On Wednesday evening, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) blocked a bill that would ban goods made using forced labor in China's Xinjiang region - after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) refused to tack on an unrelated extension of the child tax credit.
What the Daily Caller uncovered, however, is that top Nike executives funneled more than $60,000 to Wyden's re-election campaign over the course of just 16 days in September. The company has donated approximately $188,000 to his campaigns since 1989, making the apparel company his top contributor.
Nike executives previously gave large sums of cash to Wyden’s campaign. In December 2015, amid another Wyden re-election campaign, Parker, the company’s CEO at the time, and 11 other Nike executives gave contributions totaling $39,000 to the Oregon Democrat. -Daily Caller
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act was passed unanimously in the House on Tuesday, while the Senate was expected to also approve before sending it to the desk of President Biden - who vowed to sign the bill once passed by both chambers, in order to "ensure global supply chains are free of forced labor."
The bill would require companies which import products from factories in the Xinjiang province to provide "clear and convincing evidence" that the products weren't tied to forced labor.
Nike, a major benefactor of Wyden, was one of several corporations to lobby against the bill, The New York Times previously reported. A March 2020 report from the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) concluded that the Oregon-based athletic apparel giant was one of several corporations suspected to either directly employ forced labor or source materials from suppliers using forced labor in Xinjiang.
Between Sept. 15-30, 10 Nike executives including CEO John Donahoe and Executive Chairman Mark Parker each made two $2,900 contributions to Wyden, according to federal elections campaign data. Scott Uzzell, the CEO of Nike subsidiary Converse, made a single contribution of $2,900. -Daily Caller
In total, Wyden received $60,900 over the span of approximately two weeks.
Nike has denied using forced labor, saying in a statement last year following the NYT report that they company is "committed to ethical and responsible manufacturing and we uphold international labor standards,' adding "We are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR)."
"Nike does not source products from the XUAR and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region."
The company also denied lobbying against the forced labor legislation blocked by Wyden.
That said, Senate lobbying disclosures released over the past year reveal that Nike invested in efforts related to "international trade, global sourcing and labor," which specifically names the forced labor bill - yet don't detail the company's exact actions, per the Caller. According to the filings, the company has spent over $1.2 million lobbying in the Senate.
On Wednesday, Wyden said he would object to the legislation until an extension of the child tax credit was included.
Senator Rubio spoke again on the Senate Floor after Democrats object to passage of his Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. pic.twitter.com/dFRjyS73lA— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) December 15, 2021
Rubio slammed Wyden, saying he was preventing the passage of legislation that could be signed into law this week, and that even if the Senate were to pass a child credit tax extension, the House would vote on it in January at the earliest.