Three Republican senators oppose Nippon-U.S. Steel deal over national security

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Three U.S. Republican senators on Tuesday urged Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to block the $14.9 billion acquisition of U.S. Steel by Japan’s Nippon Steel, the world’s fourth largest steelmaker, citing national security concerns.

Nippon clinched a deal on Monday to buy Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel for $14.9 billion in cash, prevailing in an auction for the 122-year-old iconic steelmaker over rivals such as Cleveland-Cliffs, ArcelorMittal and Nucor.

“Despite the absence of any security-focused deliberation on U.S. Steel’s part, domestic steel production is vital to U.S. national security,” according to the letter on Tuesday from Republican Senators JD Vance, Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio.

Yellen chairs the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a panel that scrutinizes deals for potential national security risks, which is expected to review the transaction.

No comment was immediately available from the Treasury Department.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a regulaor White House briefing that there could be a regulatory review of the deal, but gave no further details.

At least four Democratic senators, Sherrod Brown, John Fetterman, Bob Casey and Joe Manchin, have also expressed opposition to the deal, as have two Democratic members of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.

Casey, Fetterman and representatives Chris Deluzio and Summer Lee wrote to Nippon Steel President Eiji Hashimoto on Tuesday to express their “deep concern” about the failure of the two firms to consult or notify the United Steelworkers union ahead of the announcement, as its contract “would seem to require.”

The lawmakers asked Hashimoto to answer specific questions about the proposed acquisition, and whether Nippon was aware of the “full scope of commitments made to workers under U.S. Steel’s contract with the steelworkers union, which represents thousands of workers at the steelmaker.

Fetterman vowed on Monday to do everything in his power “to block this foreign sale.”

The union has also come out against the transaction.

(Reporting by Shivansh Tiwary, Bianca Flowers, Nandita Bose and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Stephen Coates)