WASHINGTON — When the Russian steel company Severstal broke ground on a $550 million expansion of its plant last November in Columbus, Miss., the state’s newly elected governor, Republican Phil Bryant, showed up for the grand opening.
For Bryant, there was something to celebrate: a high-tech plant that provides work for more than 650 employees.
As part of his quest to expand Mississippi’s economy, Bryant is banking on doing more business with Russia, hoping to capitalize on a proposed trade pact with the ninth-largest economy in the world.
But he and other trade backers will have to wait: Even though the agreement has won bipartisan backing, it’s stalled on Capitol Hill, with congressional leaders refusing to allow a final vote.
Supporters are counting on the deal to win final approval when members return to work for a lame-duck session after the elections next week.