Government

Brown Visits Wheatland Tube to Tout Buy American

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WARREN, Ohio — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is calling on President Trump to support Buy America legislation that’s also backed by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

The bill calls for federally funded infrastructure projects to use domestically produced products, Brown said at a news conference Monday at the Wheatland Tube Co. plant here.

“I’ve spoke with Trump about Buy America. I know he agrees,” Brown said. “That’s why I’ve asked him to work with me to turn our bill into the law of the land.”

Wheatland Tube is in the early stages of a planned $1.5 million expansion of its Warren plant, noted Tim Feeney, general manager of operations. “It’s in the planning stages but we want to establish a shipping warehouse that can house all the materials inside,” he said.

Buy America is “common sense initiative” and “basic economics,” Feeney said. He also credited the two Ohio senators for working on legislation “to develop a level playing field” for manufacturers.

Brown said the company plans to “use Ohio builders because they understand that when we use local workers, local companies, local raw materials, investments like this have a bigger impact on the local economy.

“The federal government needs to follow the lead of companies like Wheatland Tube,” he added.

Tom Smith of Girard, a shipper with the Warren plant for 20 years, was critical of politicians in general — and Trump in particular — for not following up on promises to create jobs. Since Trump got elected, he noted, the General Motors Lordstown plant lost its third shift, he said.

“Sometimes politicians say they want to buy American but when they get back to Washington their policies don’t show that. They have financial influences that make them do otherwise,” Smith remarked. When Trump campaigned as a candidate, he promised that jobs would be coming right away, he added.

Smith also took aim at the disconnect between Trump’s rhetoric on putting America first and the overseas origins of Trump-branded merchandise. “If that was something that he was passionate about, he would have been making his products here before he decided to become a presidential candidate,” he said.

Brown’s visit to Wheatland Tube follows a roundtable discussion on trade policy that the senator held July 5 at the United Steelworkers Local 1375 union hall here. The Democrat is up for re-election next year.

On Monday the Washington Post cited that event in a story that posited if Brown had been Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Democrats likely would have won Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin — and the Electoral College.

Pictured: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Tim Feeney, general manager of operations at Wheatland Tube, flanked by plant workers.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.