The State of Steel: Tougher trade rules and more infrastructure spending, say industry and labor leaders

Posted by mmcmullan on 03/25/2014

What’s the State of Steel? That question packed a room on Capitol Hill this morning, as the House of Representatives’ Congressional Steel Caucus invited executives and labor leaders to discuss the condition of the American steel industry.

The topics covered faced both inward and outward. ArcelorMittal USA CEO Mike Rippey kept most of his comments in-house and went big, saying that while oft-debated infrastructure investment might be pricey, it’s an investment now that will pay off later:

The American people are already paying a hidden tax for inadequate infrastructure in the form of the lost jobs, less personal safety, and a decreasing quality of life. Americans lose 4.2 billion working hours per year due to traffic tie-ups. Who wouldn’t pay an extra 5 or 10 cents a gallon if it meant they could spend an extra hour a day with their family?

And Mario Longhi, president and CEO of U.S. Steel, talked trade and expressed concern with a recent Department of Commerce ruling that let South Korean steelmakers off the hook for flooding the American market with impossibly cheap product:

Rule-breaking, Mr. Chairman, is cheating. And trade based on deception can never be “fair” trade.

After the hearing, the Alliance for American Manufacturing caught up with Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers. Below, Gerard explains that all stages of the steelmaking process should occur in the United States to be considered “American made.” Unfortunately, there are efforts to undermine the Buy America laws on the books by companies whose business model relies on importing foreign-made steel slab. But when we make slab in the United States and use it for domestic infrastructure projects, says Gerard, we support more U.S. workers:

All in all, an illuminating morning on Capitol Hill.  But we've only dipped a toe into the topics that today's hearing covered. Luckily, the good people at the American Iron and Steel Institute have gathered all of the testimony presented to the Caucus at their website. And read more about the specifics of the trade case Mr. Longhi mentioned right here.

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