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At Mich. chip plant, Biden says unions ‘built middle class’

President Biden tours SK Siltron CSS, a computer chip factory in Bay City, Mich., on Nov. 29, with SK Siltron CSS CEO Jianwei Dong, second left.Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

BAY CITY, Mich. — President Biden reminded Americans he is a “prounion” president Tuesday as he toured a technology plant to highlight a $300 million expansion, just a day after he sided with business leaders in asking Congress to pass legislation to stave off a crippling rail strike.

The South Korean company SK Siltron is expected to quadruple its production in the coming years at the plant. It’s the latest in a series of massive foreign investments in the US manufacturing and technology sectors trumpeted by Biden amid a push by his administration for domestic production of key components and products, after the COVID-19 pandemic pushed long-simmering supply chain issues to the brink.

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Biden said, as he often does, that he’s been prounion his entire career, and he’d talked with SK leaders about how American workers were “the best workers in the world, you’re the most qualified workers in the world.”

“The middle class built America, and unions built the middle class,” he said.

His support of unions is a staple of his speeches from warehouses and construction sites around the county. But on Tuesday, it came as he was appealing to lawmakers to override union concerns to prevent a rail strike after an earlier deal Biden helped broker started to fall through. Four of the 12 unions have refused to ratify the agreement, stalling talks and pushing Biden and congressional leaders to get involved to stop what they have said would be a crippling strike during the holiday season. Eight of the unions have ratified the deal.

Jeffery Dukes, a member of United Association Local 85, praised Biden before the president’s remarks at the plant.

“President Biden has been committed since day one to fight for the working families of Michigan and thanks to his leadership, American manufacturing is expanding like never before,” Dukes said, adding there was never a better time to be a union member.

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jan. 6 panel to interview ex-Secret Service agent

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol is expected to interview former Secret Service agent Tony Ornato on Tuesday about Donald Trump’s actions on the day of the insurrection, according to a person familiar with the matter.

This will be the third time the committee has interviewed Ornato, who also served as Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations. Lawmakers sought his testimony to try to corroborate what other witnesses have said about Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about closed-door depositions.

“There are some concerning things with the service and whether or not some of the members were not quite forthcoming with respect to what actually occurred,” Representative Bennie Thompson, the committee’s chairman, told reporters earlier this month.

Former Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified publicly over the summer about a conversation she had with Ornato at the White House on Jan. 6, 2021. She said Ornato recalled to her how Trump had lashed out and grabbed at the steering wheel of the presidential SUV when the Secret Service refused to let him go to the Capitol after a rally at the Ellipse.

The account from Hutchinson about a physical altercation was quickly disputed by Secret Service officials. The officials do not dispute, however, that Trump angrily demanded to be taken to the Capitol to join a mob of his supporters who were marching there and ultimately breached the Capitol.

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ariz. GOP officials delay election certification

Republican officials in an Arizona county voted Monday to hold up certification of local results in this month’s midterm elections, reflecting an expansion of partisan battles into obscure elements of the election system and largely uncharted legal territory.

The Cochise County board of supervisors refused to certify the results, although members cited no issues with the count or problems in the vote. In Mohave County, Republican supervisors delayed a vote to certify the election, but then backtracked and certified the vote Monday.

The move is unlikely to significantly stall the final results of this year’s elections; state officials have said that if necessary they will pursue legal action to force the board’s certification. But it represents a newfound willingness by some Republican officeholders to officially dispute statewide election results they dislike, even when the local outcomes are not in doubt.

NEW YORK TIMES

Youngkin not ready to decide on replacing representative

RICHMOND — Governor Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday said he had not yet decided when to call a special election to fill the vacancy left by Representative A. Donald McEachin, whose death Monday night came as surprise despite the Virginia Democrat’s long struggle with cancer and the aftereffects of cancer treatment.

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McEachin, who was 61, had represented Virginia’s Fourth District, which stretches from Richmond to the North Carolina line, since 2017. Before that, he had served nine years as a state senator and eight as a delegate.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for McEachin said the exact cause of death was still unclear but referred back to a statement the office released late Monday night noting McEachin’s battle with ‘’secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013.’’ The spokesman, Shahid Ahmed, described the congressman’s death as very sudden and unexpected.

Under state law, the governor calls a special election to fill the vacancy when a member of the House of Representative dies or resigns. The law does not specify how soon the governor must act.

Youngkin on Tuesday did not provide a timeline for when the decision would be made, noting he would consult with others about selecting a date. Praising McEachin as ‘’an extraordinary public servant’' who fought ‘’a very tough battle with cancer,’’ the governor said it was too soon to pivot to plans for replacing him.

‘’And it’s a moment for us to pray for his family and remember the tremendous contributions that he made,’’ Youngkin said at a gathering with reporters after a ribbon-cutting for 66 Express Lanes, according to a transcript provided by his office. ‘’We will make decisions with regards to the special election. Today, we’re really focused on remembering the great contributions he made.’’

‘’There are folks that I’m going to want to listen to as to the best time in order to call this,’’ he added. ‘’I want to make sure that Virginians are represented.’’

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Youngkin ordered flags be flown at half-staff in McEachin’s memory, as did the White House.

WASHINGTON POST