NEW YORK (AP) -- New York Sen. Charles Schumer urged the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to avoid using steel from state-owned Chinese enterprises on future projects.
Schumer was responding to criticism over the MTA's announcement that it would be using steel from Angang Steel (Ansteel) Group, a state-owned company in China, to make repairs along the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Schumer on Thursday said China heavily subsidizes its steel industry, which makes Chinese steel artificially cheap and allows them to undercut American competitors by up to 25 percent.
"While we are appreciative of the tight budget constraints that MTA is subject to on public works projects, we believe that supporting state-owned enterprises such as Ansteel is in direct conflict with the best interest of the U.S. economy and in the future MTA should exercise all power within their authority to avoid this outcome," Schumer wrote in a letter to MTA CEO and Chairman Thomas Prendergast.
The Democratic senator also wants the MTA to alter its bidding process and to provide advance notice on future projects so that American companies can better compete.
"If we continue to source to Chinese companies based entirely on bid pricing, they will always win - with the level of government support and overproduction it's impossible to beat their prices," Schumer said.
The MTA said it was "strongly committed to using domestic steel," but that the type of orthotropic steel deck panels used in the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge repair project is not produced by American companies.
"We share the Senator's interest and want to work with the steel industry to develop American capacity for orthotropic deck fabrication," MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said.