Trump to Autoworkers: ‘Buy American and Hire American’

YPSILANTI, Mich. (Detroit Free Press/TNS) —
President Donald Trump waves as arrives to speaks at the American Center of Mobility, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Ypsilanti Township, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he plans to do what he can to roll back what he views as unnecessary and restrictive regulations that are holding automakers back from creating jobs for Americans.

Trump, speaking before hundreds of autoworkers at the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run in Ypsilanti, also talked about his efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Buy American and hire American. It’s not just a motto, it’s a pledge,” Trump said. “The era of economic surrender for the United States is over.”

Trump said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under his administration, will resume a midterm review process for greenhouse gas emissions that was started last year under former President Barack Obama’s administration.

“It was necessary (to resume the review) because the standards were set far into the future,” Trump said. “If the standards threaten auto jobs, then common sense changes could have — and should have — been made.”

Trump said the Obama administration rushed its decision to review automotive regulations that become far more difficult to achieve from 2021 to 2025.

“Just days before my administration took office, the EPA cut short a midterm review. Today, I am announcing that we are going to cancel that executive action. We are going to restore the originally scheduled midterm review,” Trump said, confirming reports from earlier in the day.

Trump’s decision has been applauded by groups representing automakers, who say they need a break from the standards because lower fuel prices have altered American buying habits and because of the cost of meeting the requirements.

But environmental groups have widely criticized Trump’s move, saying automakers could have met the standards, which will improve the environment.

The EPA, in January, decided that the current regulations should remain in place because automakers have the ability to meet those standards.

Before he spoke, the president met with top executives from 13 automotive manufacturers, suppliers and unions.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, GM CEO Mary Barra, Toyota President of North America Jim Lentz and UAW President Dennis Williams were among those who attended. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt also were expected to be present.

“I think that it’s great that he is here today,” said Larry LaBrana, 53, of Sterling Heights. “I am interested in what he has to say about the automotive industry and how he can help us. Any help would be great. I would like to see things stay here in America, keep American jobs for American workers.”

LaBrana, an engineer and union steward for UAW Local 412 who works at Fiat Chrylsler’s Sterling Stamping plant, declined to say whether he voted for Trump but said he supports Trump now.

“He won the election. As Americans, we are supposed to support our president,” LaBrana said. “That is our patriotic duty.”

Bruce Sims, wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, said he voted for Obama twice but decided to support Trump because of his emphasis on jobs and cutting the budget.

“We are here to support the president,” said Sims, 57, who also works for Fiat Chrysler. “Now I am here to see what Trump can do.”

Sims said he is happy to see Trump take steps to reduce automotive regulations.

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