But Sheen has faced scrutiny for some of his business practices, such as claims that he copied designs and cotton used In his clothes from Xinjiang, a region of China where US officials say Uighurs have been mistreated by the government. Investors are anticipating an initial public offering of Sheen this year, which has only raised questions about the company.
The bill introduced Thursday does not mention the company by name, but “Sheen is probably the clearest example of a company that has exploited the de minimis loophole the most,” Mr. Blumenauer said.
“There may be modest financial savings for consumers, but at what cost?” he said of Sheen’s affordable product line. “I think we’ve made a determination that we’re going to respect the environment, human rights and product safety, even if it costs some more money.”
Shein said in a statement that it had “zero tolerance for forced labor” and had put in place a system to comply with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The system includes a “code of conduct, independent audits, robust tracing technology and third-party testing. We have no manufacturers in the Xinjiang region,” said Shein’s spokeswoman.
“Since entering the US market in 2012, Sheen has been complying with US tax and customs laws,” she said.
Background: The US is becoming more critical of Chinese companies.
A second bill introduced on Wednesday is the latest sign of the US government seeking greater oversight of companies with ties to China.
That legislation, sponsored by Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, and Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, called for preventing Chinese companies from using the de minimis rule and requiring more information on packages entering the United States.
In March, US lawmakers questioned the chief executive of TikTok for five hours about the platform’s ties with China. Other companies, such as e-commerce retailer Teemu, have also faced scrutiny regarding their ties to the country. This month, Mr. Rubio sent a letter to other lawmakers warning them about Shein’s business practices and lobbying efforts.
In 2016, when the rule was last adjusted, “people were less concerned about China than they are now,” said William Reinsch, senior advisor at Kelly, Dry & Warren and former chairman of the National Foreign Trade Council.
What happens next: The bill is far from being passed.
The two bills require separate consideration in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and are likely to face a long road to passage.
Meanwhile, Sheen has gone on the charm offensive in recent months, becoming more vocal about its sustainability practices and its work with independent designers — two areas where it faces plenty of questions.