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Sherrod Brown draws distinction with Joe Biden on China

As the Biden administration rolls out economic policies to get tougher on China, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) still isn’t satisfied.

Brown is typically a loyal Democrat, but trade is often the issue where he breaks aggressively with his party. For more than 30 years, Brown has represented a state that has seen its manufacturing jobs disappear as the U.S. economy becomes more globalized.

Now, the Ohio Democrat is opening new fronts in his efforts to push the Biden administration further on trade while he’s facing a tough reelection battle this November. President Joe Biden isn’t overwhelmingly popular in the Buckeye State, either.

Brown’s latest moves include slamming the administration over clean energy tax credit rules and new tariffs that he argues don’t go far enough.

Brown’s decision this week to back a challenge on electric vehicle sourcing rules from the Inflation Reduction Act puts him in rare company. Most Democrats aren’t interested in publicly brawling with the Biden administration over rules for their signature 2022 law.

Brown told us in an interview that he sees progress on IRA rules but wants more:

We sat down with Brown after he delivered remarks this week accepting an award from the Coalition for a Prosperous America. Brown said presidents have “sold us out” on trade and leaders in both parties are now “waking up to the economic threat posed” by China.

What’s next: Brown said during the speech that he’s working on legislation to tighten rules for an IRA clean energy manufacturing tax credit. Brown declared it would address loopholes in the credit that allow benefits for Chinese companies.

Brown also told us that much of his focus in trying to push for tougher trade and China policies is about pressuring the Biden administration on how it’s interpreting the law.

The political reality: Brown emphasizes that he’s pressed every president for stricter trade policies that do more to protect domestic manufacturing and jobs.

Facing the toughest reelection fight of his career, Brown has already placed nearly $42 million in TV ads, outpacing all other incumbent senators this cycle, according to AdImpact. Manufacturing jobs and EV policy are coming up in the campaign.

Republicans have sought to tie Brown as closely as possible to Biden and other Democrats.

When we asked Brown whether he wants Biden to campaign with him in Ohio, here’s his response:

There’s likely going to be plenty more for Brown to press Biden on in the coming months, as the president also attempts to show he’s got tough policies on trade with China.

— Laura Weiss

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.