Trump Discusses Manufacturing, Signs Executive Order in Wisconsin

President Donald Trump traveled to Wisconsin Tuesday, where he spoke at a local factory and signed an executive order his administration has dubbed "Buy American, Hire American." 

Trump toured the facility of big-name tool manufacturer SnapOn Inc. before addressing a crowd. He was introduced by the company's CEO Nicholas Pinchuk, who thanked the president for his support for the company's "makers and fixers."

White House spokesman Sean Spicer had said the president wanted to visit "a company that builds American-made tools with American workers."

Trump opened by thanking officials, including Janesville-native House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is on a congressional trip visiting NATO countries and was not present Tuesday.

Both Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson joined Trump at SnapOn, as did White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who attended high school in Kenosha. 

"We are about to take bold new steps on my pledge to buy American and hire American," Trump said, echoing a campaign promise he's made several times in the past.

Trump carried Wisconsin in November by under 23,000 votes — less than 1 percentage point — making him the first Republican to win the state since 1984. He campaigned on the promise of returning manufacturing jobs that have been lost in Upper Midwest states.

"We’re sending a powerful signal to the world," he added. "We’re going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first."

Trump then signed an executive order seeking to change the H-1B visa program that allows workers from other countries to enter the United States for employment, largely in the technology industry.

The order directs multiple federal agencies to examine the visa process and make changes to award the visas to the "most-skilled or highest-paid applicants" and ultimately discourage companies from hiring foreign employees over American workers.

The White House says the visa program undercuts American workers by bringing in large numbers of cheaper, foreign workers, driving down wages. 

Opponents of Tuesday's executive order, like many in the tech industry, have argued that the H-1B program is needed because it encourages students to stay in the U.S. after getting degrees in high-tech specialties — and companies can't always find enough American workers with the skills they need.

Tuesday's event was Trump's first visit to Wisconsin since being elected, carrying the state by less than 23,000 votes over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. 

Trump currently has only a 41 percent approval rating in the state.

He had planned a trip to Milwaukee earlier this year to deliver a speech on the economy but that trip was ultimately canceled.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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