Workers in Washington press Commerce Department to finish steel investigation.
On Tuesday dozens of steelworkers were on Capitol Hill, urging members of Congress to lean on the Trump administration to complete the Section 232 investigations into steel imports.
Today, they sat down with Commerce Department officials, spoke by phone with Secretary Wilbur Ross and made the same request: Finish what you started.
“We told them 'you said you were going to do something, now you have to act,'” said Tom Conway with the United Steelworkers.
They’ve got a point. When President Trump announced these investigations in April, he was bound by the letter of the law to conclude them in 270 days – approximately nine months. The president assured everyone they wouldn’t need that long, and was transparent about what the outcome would be. “Steel folks are gonna be very happy,” he said in June.
I look forward to reading the @CommerceGov 232 analysis of steel and aluminum- to be released in June. Will take major action if necessary.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2017
But the steel folks aren’t happy, President Trump. And with good reason: By announcing a big ruling on steel imports was coming and then putting off its outcome – Trump announced in July the ruling would be delayed – the White House has created a window for imports to jump in before it closes. And jump in they have; imports are up more than 21 percent in the first eight months of this year.
The consequences of this overcapacity problem are long-documented. Only a small amount of steel is produced for defense purposes, it’s true – but it takes a lot of capital and R&D to produce the specialty metals required for military armaments.
If America wants to build its own F-35 jets, tanks, aircraft and troop carriers, it needs a healthy domestic steel industry that help produce them.
But if that industry is run out of business because the state-owned competition in China can’t (or won’t) stop flooding the steel market, America won’t have one.