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Biden said he opposes Nippon Steel takeover of US Steel. Now the USW has endorsed him

President Biden talks with supporters during a campaign event in Saginaw, Mich., on March 14.
Jacquelyn Martin
/
AP
President Biden talks with supporters during a campaign event in Saginaw, Mich., on March 14.

President Biden on Thursday said he opposes a deal that would see Japan's Nippon Steel take over U.S. Steel, a proposed takeover that has become a political lightning rod for the presidential race in midwestern swing states.

The $15 billion deal was announced in December, and has been fiercely opposed by the United Steelworkers union. U.S. Steel is based in Pennsylvania — a battleground state for 2024 — and has operations in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and other states as well.

The White House said Biden had called the president of the union to relay his message.

"It is important that we maintain strong American steel companies powered by American steel workers," Biden said in a statement released by the White House on a day that visited Saginaw, Mich., for a campaign event.

"I told our steelworkers I have their backs, and I meant it. U.S. Steel has been an iconic American steel company for more than a century, and it is vital for it to remain an American steel company that is domestically owned and operated," Biden said.

Biden has been courting union voters in swing states, and scored a high-profile endorsement from the United Auto Workers earlier this year after he marched on a picket line. He has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and more than two dozen other national unions, and met with the Teamsters this week.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for Republicans in the November race, said that he would block the deal if he is elected. He made the comments after meeting with the Teamsters in January. Trump had slapped tariffson steel imports when he was in office.

The United Steelworkers has not endorsed a candidate, though they backed Biden in 2020. Last month, union President David McCall said that he had received "personal assurances" that Biden had taken an interest in the deal.

Pennsylvania's Democratic senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman have urged the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) to block to the deal, and in December, Biden's top economic adviser Lael Brainard took the unusual step of publicly disclosing that the deal should be scrutinized for potential national security issues.
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Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.