[ KRISTINA PETERSON | December 02, 2016 |The Wall Street Journal]
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) urged President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday to buck House Republicans and defend his pledges to buy U.S. steel in the face of concerns it has generated among top GOP lawmakers on a water infrastructure bill.
“Today we’re challenging the president-elect: follow through on what you campaigned on and tell the congressional Republicans we ought to build our infrastructure with American steel,” Mr. Schumer told reporters Tuesday. “It’s going to be up to the president-elect to stand up to the Republican establishment he campaigned against on economic issues.”
The dispute centers on a provision of a water infrastructure bill released Monday after merging different House and Senate versions. The Senate bill contained a requirement that going forward, federal money could largely only be used to buy U.S.-produced iron and steel and raised the threshold for how much of the steel-manufacturing process had to occur in the U.S. to qualify.
But House GOP leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, worried that could create an advantage for some U.S. manufacturers over others. The final bill included less-strict language that kept in place some requirements— but only through September, rather than on a permanent basis. Mr. Ryan told reporters Tuesday he expected the House would pass the water infrastructure bill this week.
Mr. Trump said repeatedly on the campaign trail that the government should find ways to support U.S. manufacturers, particularly the steel industry and reiterated that pledge last Thursday night at a rally in in Cincinnati. “We will have two simple rules when it comes to this massive rebuilding effort: Buy American and hire American,” Mr. Trump said at the rally. His transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Mr. Schumer argued that the “Buy America” provision would do more to help U.S. workers than Mr. Trump’s effort with Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, to keep to 800 jobs at a plant in Indiana owned by Carrier Corp., a unit of United Technologies Corp.
“That will cause the loss of many more jobs than the president-elect kept in Indiana,” Mr. Schumer said of the watered-down “Buy America” provision.
A handful of Senate Democrats said they hope to add the beefed-up language back into the water infrastructure bill as an amendment.