Brown Speaks With Trump Regarding GM
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said this morning that he and President Donald Trump talked last night and discussed the situation facing the General Motors Lordstown plant and a bill the senator has introduced to protect U.S. autoworkers.
During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Brown said he had met briefly with one of the president’s assistants, who indicated that the president would call him later that day.
Trump called Brown back last night, and the senator took the opportunity to pitch his American Cars, American Jobs Act, which eliminates tax breaks to companies that move auto production overseas and gives consumers a $3,500 discount on vehicles manufactured in the United States.
“I called on President Trump to support my American Cars, American Jobs Act, which I first introduced this summer,” Brown said in a statement. “The president said he liked the bill.”
Brown said his office sent a copy of the bill to the White House, but emphasized that action is needed now.
“I’m glad the president said the right things [last night], but now he needs to follow it up with action. I’ve been calling on him to help save these jobs for months, and it’s long past time we stop subsidizing corporations that send jobs overseas and start supporting American workers.”
Late Tuesday, Trump assailed the Ohio senator during an interview with The Wall Street Journal, blaming him for GM’s decision to close the Lordstown plant along with the elimination of more than 1,500 jobs.
“Ohio wasn’t properly represented by their Democratic senator, Senator Brown, because he didn’t get his point across,” Trump said. Trump did not reference Ohio’s other senator, Republican Rob Portman, leaving many to believe the shot was directed at Brown because he could emerge as a potential candidate against Trump in 2020.
Brown told reporters during the conference call that his record speaks for itself.
“I join a long line of all kinds of people that the president – never taking responsibility himself – points his finger at,” Brown told reporters today. “I’m fine with that. I’ll compare my record standing up for workers when he was a rich developer in New York and outsourced all his clothing line jobs and tableware jobs overseas.”
Brown said he had asked the president for a meeting as early as Sunday evening when news started to trickle out about GM’s decision to close Lordstown and two other manufacturing plants in Detroit and Ontario, Canada.
“I’m going to ask the president to intervene in every possible way and tell [GM CEO] Mary Barra how important it is that they not open the plant in Mexico, and instead retool in Ohio and Michigan,” Brown said. “I’m also going to ask the president to support the American Cars American Jobs Act,” which Brown has sponsored.
Brown said that he first spoke to Trump on June 30, shortly after GM announced it would eliminate the second shift at Lordstown, eliminating 1,500 positions. A year earlier, the company said it would cancel the third shift at the plant.
“He was unaware of the third shift being laid off,” Brown said, nor was the president informed of the layoff of the second shift.
“I asked him to intervene then, and he didn’t respond, and apparently didn’t intervene at all,” Brown said. “Now, he’s pointing fingers at others.”
Brown would instead like to see Trump go before Congress with a plan to eliminate tax breaks that encourage corporations such as GM to build factories and move work overseas.
“I’ll stand up fighting for American workers against this President any day, on any issue,” Brown said.
The senator dismissed the president’s plan to remove subsidies on GM products such as electric vehicles since those subsidies are nearly maxed out. Brown also said he was told by GM officials that the 25% tariffs the Trump administration has placed on steel imports – a measure Brown supports – was not a factor in the company’s decision.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13, said Wednesday that he had a face-to-face discussion about Lordstown with Vice President Mike Pence.
“I told him I want to work with this administration to put a car back in Lordstown as soon as possible,” Ryan said in a statement. “I look forward to further discussions with the administration and my colleagues in Congress about how to make this economy work for American workers.”
Today Ryan and four other Democratic members of Congress are scheduled to hold a news conference on Capitol Hill to discuss the plant closings and demand action by President Trump.
On Wednesday the president renewed his threat to punish GM for closing the plant here, in Detroit and Maryland. Trump said his administration is looking at imposing tariffs on cars built overseas. “Because of the G.M. event, it is being studied now!” the president said in a tweet.
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Pictured: Sen. Sherrod Brown addresses those gathered at the UAW 1112 union hall for the kickoff of the Drive it Home campaign on Nov. 20.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.