The Springfield rail car manufacturing plant owned by the Chinese contractor CRRC Corp. appears to have escaped the threat of crippling business restrictions, following the US Senate’s final passage Tuesday of a measure that places some limits on Chinese-backed manufacturing but also allows room to grow.
The provision is part of the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act, and it now heads to the desk of President Trump, who has said he’ll sign it.
CRRC is building Red and Orange line cars for the MBTA, and it is also working with transit systems in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
But the company’s close links to the Chinese government have been criticized by some lawmakers and others amid difficult trade relations and questions about national security. An early version of the defense bill had significant restrictions on the use of federal money for contracts with CRRC.
Because federal money is a part of many big transit projects, some worried the proposal would have eventually closed the Springfield factory, which employs about 200 people.
The final version of the bill included language backed by Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts, whose district includes Springfield, allowing the company to continue to bid on new federally funded business with its existing customers. It would also be able to bid on similar deals with most other agencies for two years.
The company said in a statement last week that the compromise measure “has preserved our ability to compete for all vehicle procurement bids at transit agencies across the US.”
Andy Rosen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.