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President Biden visits Pittsburgh, promises U.S. Steel will remain an American company

President Biden promised to keep U.S. Steel an American company
President Biden promised to keep U.S. Steel an American company 02:39

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- President Joe Biden visited Pittsburgh on Wednesday to meet with steelworkers and call for the tripling of tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum imports.

Biden spoke at the United Steelworkers headquarters to announce new actions he says will protect the U.S. steel and shipbuilding industry from China's unfair practices.

While there, he pushed back against the proposed merger between U.S. Steel and a Japanese company. U.S. Steel's stockholders voted "overwhelmingly" last week to approve a nearly $15 billion merger with Nippon Steel, Japan's largest steelmaker.

"U.S. Steel has been an iconic American company for more than a century and it should remain a totally American company," Biden said to applause. "American-owned, American-operated by American union steelworkers, the best in the world. And that's going to happen. I promise you." 

Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey spoke before the president. When Biden landed at the Pittsburgh International Airport around 1 p.m., he was greeted by Gainey.

When he arrived at the United Steelworkers' headquarters, he talked with union members.

U.S. Steel's sale pending to Japanese company

U.S. Steel CEO and President David B. Burritt promises the sale will make the company and the domestic steel industry stronger but the deal has raised questions from Biden and numerous elected officials representing Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh area. 

Pennsylvania's two Democratic senators, Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman, have both voiced opposition to the sale. Fetterman lives across the street from U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson plant in Braddock. 

Burritt says U.S. Steel will keep its name and remain headquartered in Pittsburgh. More than 98% of the shares voted in favor at the special meeting, representing about 71% of the shares of U.S. Steel common stock. 

Biden announces protections for American steel and shipbuilding industries

The president is asking the United States Trade Representative to triple the existing tariff rate on Chinese steel and aluminum. The Biden administration says American workers continue to face unfair competition from Chinese imports of steel and aluminum products.

"For too long, the Chinese government has poured state money into Chinese steel companies, pushing them to make so much steel, as much as possible, subsidized by the Chinese government," Biden said. "Because China steel companies produce a lot more steel than China needs, it ends up dumping the extra steel on the global market at unfairly low prices. And the prices are unfairly low because China steel companies don't need to worry about making a profit because the Chinese government subsidizes them so heavily. They're not competing, they're cheating." 

The president is also directing his senior team to work with Mexico to prevent China from avoiding tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Mexico into America.

This all comes in light of the proposed sale of U.S. Steel to Nippon Steel, which has to be approved by the Justice Department and the Committee on Foreign Investment. The president says he is committed to maintaining strong American steel companies powered by American steelworkers.

Biden also touted investments in clean, American-made steel. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, $1.5 billion will go to six clean iron and steel projects that will support communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, the south and the Midwest. 

"My presence being here sends volumes."

A steelworker from Penn Hills got the chance to see and hear Japan's prime minister during a joint session of Congress last week. 

Rob Jones was a guest of Representative Chris Deluzio and said that a rank and file union member being taken down to D.C. was an amazing process.

Rob Jones is a steelworker from Penn Hills who was invited to Washington, D.C. last week to attend a joint session of Congress where Japan's prime minister spoke and discussed the pending sale of U.S. Steel to Nippon Steel.  Congressman Chris Deluzio

Rep. Deluzio joins Senators Fetterman and Casey in opposing the deal and has cited the need to protect more union jobs.

Under the pending sale agreement, U.S. Steel would keep its name and headquarters in Pittsburgh, but it worries Jones when it comes to national security and the military.

Jones said that his being invited for the Congress session shows that the union and the representatives are behind the workers. 

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