From NBC's Mike Viqueira
Leading members of the Congressional Steel Caucus have revealed that Chinese-made pipe and tube are being used to construct the congressionally mandated fence along the border with Mexico. They are demanding that something be done to ensure that American made products are used instead.
"It is outrageous, offensive, and unacceptable," says Rep. Jason Altmire (D-western PA). "If they are going to build this with steel it should be U.S. steel. No exceptions," said Rep. Phil English (R-western PA), who added that there are firms in his district that would love to supply materials for building the fence. English calls the barrier a "Great Wall of China."
The assembled members displayed a photograph of the fence -- only a small portion of which has been completed to date -- with piping that is clearly marked, "China." They say it was given to them by union activists, and that after seeing it, the members confirmed with the Department of Homeland Security that the government was indeed using Chinese-made pipe and tube. Not only that, DHS waived the "buy American" requirement written into the law that authorized construction.
It's not a matter of price, they say, but of national and economic security -- and also of quality. "They don't make safe toys," says Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN). "We ought to have a quality fence." Visclosky has asked DHS Secretary Chertoff to come to Congress and testify on the issue.
Presidential hopeful and critic of China Rep. Duncan Hunter was also on hand. He pointed out that of the 854 miles of barriers authorized by Congress a year ago, only five miles of double fencing and 70 miles of single fencing have so far been constructed.