U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Sen. Tammy Duckworth decried President Trump’s trade wars and their impact on American manufacturing capacity alongside union representatives in steel and paper manufacturing on a conference call Friday.

The senators both hailed former Vice President Biden’s recently released “Build Back Better” plan as the solution to what they see as the U.S.’s manufacturing woes related to both COVID-19 and longer-running trends.

“We don’t want to build back how we were before. We need to build back better. And Joe Biden’s got plans to do so,” said Baldwin, D-Madison.

“Right now, we’re just barely hanging on,” said Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat. “We’re not making investments in our businesses. Joe Biden understands we need to invest as a nation in manufacturing.”

Duckworth said that Trump’s trade wars with China and enthusiasm for tariffs have worsened the “atrophy” of manufacturing, infrastructure, and agriculture in the U.S.

Duckworth also slammed the president’s move to grant waivers to the DOD to buy military equipment made overseas. As a former U.S. helicopter pilot, she said, having a transmission or hydraulic pump made in China “scares the heck out of me.”

“As a helicopter pilot, I’d rather fly into combat on American made, American manufactured equipment I can rely on,” she said.

Trump Victory in a statement shortly before the call, said Biden’s record shows decades of support for “job-killing” trade agreements and calling his plans “out of step with Wisconsin manufacturing.”

Rick Fritschka, a third-generation paper mill worker, said that he considers the benefits of unionization essential to the American Dream. He said that he thought the Biden plan’s emphasis on labor was important for an “American-made” future.

“[Paper mill workers] need a leader that understands strong manufacturing, from paper to steel to a clean environment,” Fritschka said. “This country must be made in America, by Americans, and workers need to have the wages and benefits through collective bargaining so we can all live in and enjoy the American dream.”

–By Caroline Kubzansky, for WisPolitics.com.

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