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Senators ask Biden to block US Steel sale

Three Republicans sent a letter to the president saying he has the power to unilaterally block the company’s $14.1 billion acquisition by Nippon Steel.

WASHINGTON (CN) — A group of senators on Thursday asked President Joe Biden to go beyond his public opposition of Nippon Steel’s takeover of U.S. Steel and back up his words with action.

Republican Senators J.D. Vance of Ohio, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida sent a letter to Biden asking him to block the sale of the steel manufacturing giant.

“Pronouncements about what you consider ‘vital’ or what you think ‘should’ happen to U.S. Steel are worthless unless you act to keep U.S. Steel under American control,” the senators wrote in the Thursday letter. 

U.S. Steel has been one of the largest and most powerful steel companies in the world for more than a century. It was formed in 1901 when J.P. Morgan financed the merger of Andrew Carnegie’s Carnegie Steel Co. with Federal Steel Co. and National Steel Co.

It became so large in the early 1900s that the federal government tried to break up the company around the same time it broke up Standard Oil, but was unsuccessful.

Last month, a majority of the Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel's shareholders approved the company’s sale to Nippon Steel of Japan for $14.1 billion in cash. Nippon plans to close on the purchase by the end of the year.

The potential sale has drawn opposition throughout the federal government over its impact on unionized workers, supply chains and U.S. national security.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby was unaware of the letter, but said Biden opposes the deal. He did not offer specifics on any White House plans to block it.

“The president remains determined to make sure that US Steel stays in American hands,” he said. “That’s the goal he’s going to continue to pursue.”

In a March statement, Biden said “it is vital for it to remain an American steel company that is domestically owned and operated.” 

“It is important that we maintain strong American steel companies powered by American steel workers,” he said. “I told our steel workers I have their backs, and I meant it.” 

The senators said Biden’s words aren’t enough and he must act under the Defense Production Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. 

“These statements amount to wishes, not declarations,” they wrote, “and belie your authority as president of the United States.” 

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Categories / Business, Politics

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