Delay in releasing national security investigation findings means steelworkers “left to languish.”
The Financial Times had a big scoop on Monday: President Trump twice turned down a proposed deal from China to cut its steel overcapacity, instead favoring imposing tariffs to deal with the ongoing steel imports crisis.
While we would never pretend to know Trump’s reasoning on, well, anything, it’s worth remembering that China has repeatedly broken past promises to reduce its industrial overcapacity. Given that history, it’s reasonable to think this deal would just lead to more of the same, and it’s a reasonable to favor a tougher stance here.
Now Trump must follow through.
And Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle want him to do just that.
Several Members have written to both Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over the past two weeks to urge swift and comprehensive action on both steel and aluminum, calling on the Trump administration to finally unveil the results of national security investigations into the surging imports.
Trump launched the two Section 232 investigations back in April, and Ross pledged to release the results by the end of June. But the administration still hasn’t unveiled the findings of either investigations.
Meanwhile, the imports crisis is getting worse, since importers are dumping as much product as they can to get ahead of the 232 decisions — steel imports alone are up by nearly 22 percent so far in 2017 compared to last year.
The ongoing delay means America’s “steel industry and steelworkers have been left to languish without answers,” writes Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) in an Aug. 23 letter to Ross.
“The American steel industry cannot wait any longer for relief from unfair trading practices,” writes Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) in an Aug. 25 letter. “Certain countries, particularly China, have flooded our markets with inferior steel products that have decimated production in our domestic steel industry. … The continued dumping of foreign-made steel is resulting in lost jobs, reduction in capacity, and contributing to the real possibility that our country will not have the means [to] manufacture steel for national defense.”
Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) voiced support for both steel and aluminum.
“These sectors have been ravaged by foreign competition,” he writes in an Aug. 21 letter to Ross. “China leads a host of other countries that have flooded our markets resulting in plant shutdowns, lost jobs, and reductions in national production capacity. Until the U.S. curtails the influx of these foreign imports, our national security and the viability of our steel and aluminum producers are at risk.”
Reps. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Richard Nolan (D-Minn.), and Daniel Kildee (D-Mich.) are among the other Members who have written to Ross over the past several days. The Bipartisan Steel Caucus previously urged broad action in a June letter, stressing the importance of steel to America’s defense and critical infrastructure.
Illinois Republican Reps. Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, and John Shimkus also wrote directly to Trump in June asking him to "include robust protection to prevent tariff evasion and other foreign practices that have undermined existing trade remedy enforcement actions."
"American companies and workers are competing against state-owned and subsidized companies in opaque non-market economies that do not vary production based on market conditions," the Members write. "This allows some foreign companies to produce and export steel well in excess of their own domestic needs and at below fair market value, thus harming American companies and workers and putting critical aspects of our economic and physical security at risk."
Steel executives from 25 U.S. companies wrote directly to Trump last week seeking action. United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard, whose union represents both steel and aluminum workers, said in July that “delay is devastating” and called on Trump to act.
“Workers’ hopes were raised during the campaign and by the President’s announcement,” Gerard said. “They are sick and tired of Washington politicians saying they care, and dragging their feet.”
President Trump continues to say he favors strong action when it comes to steel and aluminum imports. It's time for him to keep his word.