A manufacturer's suggestion that American companies buy foreign-made U.S. flags and replace "Made in Taiwan" labels with "Made in USA" is causing a small uproar on Capitol Hill.

"In all my years as a member of Congress, few issues have struck me as being as blatantly outrageous" as the label-switch proposal, Rep. Douglas Applegate, D-Ohio, wrote in a letter seeking a Customs Service investigation.Applegate was one of several members of Congress who asked Customs to look into the issue. The inquiries were triggered by a letter-writing campaign by domestic flag manufacturers.

"I feel we can compete with a U.S. flag labeled `Made in Taiwan' but we cannot compete with a U.S. flag labeled `Made in USA' when in fact it wasn't," wrote Vane Scott, general manager of the Colonial Flag Co. in Coshocton, Ohio.

Scott provided Applegate with a copy of a three-page 1987 solicitation on the letterhead of the Ming Teh Flag Co. Ltd. of Taipei, Taiwan, which suggested changing "Made in Taiwan" labels after the flag shipments had cleared Customs.