Ohio's Democratic US senator says Trump should take action on auto plant closings

Posted at 10:10 AM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 16:26:45-05

CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio's Democratic U.S. senator, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, Wednesday challenged President Donald Trump to stop "pointing fingers" and take action to head off auto plant closings.

Sen. Sherrod Brown promoted legislation he introduced in August that would give customers a $3,500 discount on cars made in America and curtail tax breaks on profits from auto makers that move jobs overseas. He said he hoped to speak soon with the Republican president, as Brown and Ohio's Republican leaders are seeking ways to save the Lordstown plant near Youngstown.

Trump has threatened to slash General Motors subsidies and has criticized Brown since Detroit-based GM announced Monday that production of the Chevy Cruze would stop in March at the assembly plant that has some 1,500 workers left after losing 3,000 jobs within two years.

Trump told The Wall Street Journal that "Ohio wasn't properly represented by their Democrat senator, Senator Brown, because he didn't get the point across" to General Motors.

MORE: Not just jobs riding on fate of GM plant after Trump promise

Brown told reporters he joins "a long line of people" that Trump points his finger at while not taking responsibility.

"I'll stand up for my record fighting for American workers against this president's, any day, on any issue," said Brown, who after his election this month to a third term said he is seriously considering a 2020 president run.

Youngtown is in a Democratic and labor stronghold where Trump ran well while carrying Ohio in 2016. At a rally near the plant last year, Trump talked about passing by big factories whose jobs "have left Ohio," then told people not to sell their homes because the jobs are "coming back. They're all coming back."

Brown said people in the Mahoning Valley area trusted Trump, so it's time for him to "live up to his promise" and urged him to support Brown's legislation, which has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Meanwhile, Ohio's Republican senator, Rob Portman, said he will push GM to produce one of its electric vehicles at the Lordstown plant. Ohio's incoming governor, Republican Mike DeWine, said he plans on meeting with GM officials to make a case for the plant after he takes office in January

GM said Lordstown is one of five factories up for possible closure as it restructures to cut costs and focus on autonomous and electric vehicles. What happens to those plants will be discussed during contract talks with the United Auto Workers union next year.