WASHINGTON – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said American voters hoped President Trump would be a “different kind of Republican president” but argued his “buy American and hire American” pledge has been “nothing more than a campaign slogan.”
Despite the situation with North Korea, Schumer also said Trump should label China a currency manipulator to send a “shot across their bow.”
Trump visited Wisconsin today to roll out his “buy American, hire American” executive order.
“When President Trump was candidate Trump, he promised to be a voice for the forgotten man and to stand up for the American worker. He said his policies would be defined by two key ideas: Buy American and hire American. Unfortunately for the American worker, the reality hasn’t matched his rhetoric. President Trump’s policies put profits over people. He seems to do what the CEOs want, not what the workers want,” Schumer charged on a conference call. “Sadly, buy American and hire American has been nothing more than a campaign slogan.”
Schumer criticized Trump for not standing up to China in the hope that the PRC will help confront North Korea’s threats and missile tests.
“He hasn’t stood up to China, who has robbed millions of Americans of jobs over the last several decades – has been a benefactor of loopholes in our ‘buy America’ laws. Instead, he’s coddling them in return for vague assurances that they’ll help rein in North Korea. He’s blocked an overtime rule that will put hundreds of thousands of dollars – millions of dollars – in middle-class workers’ pockets from going into effect,” Schumer said.
“He hasn’t even tried to move legislation that would end tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas, something we Democrats have been advocating for years. Many millions of Americans had hoped that Donald Trump would be a different kind of Republican president when he was sworn into office,” he added.
The New York senior senator told reporters that Democrats are working “very hard” on a trade package that he predicted will have “broad support” in the Democratic caucus.
“When we are ready to announce it, we will. But we are going to have a really strong trade package and we hope the president will work with us on something like this. So far, we haven’t seen much. China is not manipulating its currency right now but it could in the future,” Schumer said. “If he had labeled them a manipulator, it would send a shot across their bow. Right now, the president seems to be backing off all the tough talk on China, and China with unfair trade practices is costing America trillions of dollars and millions of jobs and they haven’t changed one bit and the president is not challenging them to change.”
Schumer said the Democrats’ trade package has a “strong focus” on China.
“We think they are the most egregious trade violator in the world – that hurts America more than any other country,” he said.
During an interview with Fox News today, Trump said he has not softened his stance on China.
“Now, what am I going to do? Start a trade war with China while in the middle of [Chinese President Xi Jinping] working on a bigger problem, frankly, with North Korea?” Trump said. “So, I’m dealing with China with great respect. I have great respect for him. Now, we’ll see what he can do. Now, maybe he won’t be able to help. That’s possible. I think he’s trying. But, maybe he won’t be able to help and that’s a whole different story, but we’ll see what happens.”
Schumer said the president did not keep his promise to make sure the Keystone pipeline would be built with American steel.
“The steel is going to come from places like India, Italy, and Canada. Now some will give TransCanada a break and argue that they had already purchased steel from abroad and should be allowed to use it, but the president wasn’t even willing to make sure that every mile of pipeline built in the future was made from American steel. The executive order of the president doesn’t make the use of American steel a condition for approving pipeline projects,” he said.
“If the president cared about the American workers or if his actions matched his verbiage, he would not allow the construction of one more foot of pipeline in this country that is not made from American steel. He would work with Congress to make sure that steel had to be made in the U.S.,” he added.
Schumer also mentioned the Water Resources Development Act, which was passed and signed into law in December before Trump took office.
“The bill would have provided billions of dollars to local communities across the country to help them rebuild their water and sewer infrastructure – a lot of steel in that infrastructure. Democrats inserted a provision into the bill requiring that the materials needed to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure come from the United States,” he said.
Schumer said Trump did not intervene when Republican leaders took the “buy American” provision out of the bill.
“So what did we do? We called on the president to intervene. We said to him that a tweet, a call to the Republican speaker, a meeting with the Congressional leadership could have kept this ‘buy America’ provision in the bill and been a huge boon to American workers,” he said.
Schumer urged Trump to support the Made in America Water Infrastructure Act, which was introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). The bill requires American-made iron and steel is used for “water infrastructure projects funded by the drinking water state revolving fund,” Schumer explained.
“If the president is serious about ‘buy America,’ the most important thing he can do is announce his support for Tammy Baldwin’s bill today – that would be real,” he said.
Part of Trump’s latest executive order directs certain federal agencies to examine H-1B visas for possible abuse.
According to a senior administration official, the order calls for “the strict enforcement of all laws governing entry into the United States of labor from abroad for the stated purpose of creating higher wages and higher employment rates for workers in the United States” and directs the departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security and State “to take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse, which should both be understood as separate problems in our immigration system in order to protect workers in the United States and their economic conditions.”
Schumer said Trump should follow the H-1B provisions of the comprehensive immigration bill the Senate passed in 2013.
“We passed real H-1B reform, that would ensure outsourcing companies can’t gobble up the H-1B visas, give them away to low-wage workers, and steal jobs out from under the nose of American workers. It was in the comprehensive immigration reform bill that Senator McCain and I, a bipartisan bill, led in 2013,” the minority leader said. “The president could simply adopt our proposal, which is strong and tough, and if he’d stop demonizing immigrants and work with us on immigration reform, we could get something done, something real, not just a study.”