Senate Dems: Trump Admin’s Promise To Crack Down On China’s Trade Practices Should Not Take A Back Seat To GOP’s Tax Plan To The Detriment Of U.S. Aluminum And Steel Workers; Dems Urge Commerce Dept. To Complete Steel/Aluminum Investigation & Present Findings To President Before His November Trip To China

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Has Shockingly Said He Is Waiting For GOP’s Tax Plan To Pass Before Completing A Critical Investigation To Determine If The Administration Should Restrict Steel And Aluminum Imports From China, Despite Fact the Two Policies are Not Dependent on One Another Trump Admin Officials, Including Sec. Ross, Have Repeatedly Said Conclusion Of Critical Sec. 232 Investigations Of Steel And Aluminum Imports Was Imminent, Leading To A Surge In Imports And Subsequent A Factory

October 23, 2017

Washington, DC – In a new letter to President Trump and Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Senate Democrats today urged the administration to keep its promise to quickly level the playing field for steel and aluminum workers,  rather than delaying action in order to prioritize the GOP’s tax proposal. In the letter, the Senate Democrats explain that the Trump administration initially began its critical Sec. 232 investigations – which examine how imports could undermine the capacity of U.S. steel and aluminum producers to supply our defense needs, including the steel and aluminum that goes into making body armor, tanks, ships and critical infrastructure – yet, despite statements by the President and administration officials indicating the imminent conclusion of these investigations, they have failed to both complete it and present its findings to the president. The Senators also note that these statements by the President and administration officials caused a surge in imports – and a subsequent closure of a Pennsylvania factory -- as foreign producers imported before any import restrictions are put into place. Despite this pressing need to complete the investigations, Secretary Ross has said the Commerce Department will wait for the GOP to pass their tax proposal. The Senate Democrats said the Commerce Department should not put cracking down on China’s and other countries trade practices on the back burner at the expense of the middle class and therefore urge the Department of Commerce to complete the necessary investigation and present it to President Trump before he travels to China in November.

The letter was signed by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Gary Peters (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

A copy of the Senate Democrats’ letter to President Trump and Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appears below:

Dear President Trump and Secretary Ross:

We write on behalf of our constituents employed by the aluminum and steel industries in our states. We are deeply concerned that our aluminum and steel workers are suffering due to the Administration’s inaction on the Sec. 232 investigations of steel and aluminum imports and the recent comments by Secretary Ross indicating that the administration is delaying action because the investigations may “interfere with the legislative agenda” concerning tax reform. Previous statements by the President and administration officials indicating the imminent conclusion of these investigations has caused a surge in imports. This surge, manufactured by the administration’s delays, has resulted in the closure of a factory and has put additional American jobs at risk. We urge you to complete these investigations as soon as possible, regardless of the legislative process on tax reform.

The Sec. 232 investigations were initiated to ensure that imports do not threaten the ability of U.S. steel and aluminum industries to meet our defense and critical infrastructure needs. However, frequent announcements from the President and administration officials setting deadlines on the completion of the Sec. 232 reports has caused a surge in steel imports as foreign producers have sought to import before the implementation of foreseen import restrictions. In May of this year, Secretary Ross mentioned at a public hearing that he hoped to submit the steel Sec. 232 report to the President by the end of June. The President and Secretary Ross continued to make such comments, setting deadlines in the following months. As a direct result of these reported deadlines, in July, steel imports rose 22 percent from the same period a year ago to capture 28 percent of the U.S. market. Total finished steel imports have sustained 27 percent of U.S. market share in September. Producers in certain industries have faced a massive increase in imports, such as oil country pipe and tube, which is up 254 percent in September compared to last year.

We understand that the Administration is continuing its efforts to negotiate an agreement with China and other countries to reduce their excess steel and aluminum capacity. As with the Sec. 232 investigations, political concerns surrounding tax reform should not weigh on this important goal, as the two policy goals are not linked to one another. Global overcapacity, resulting from massive government subsidies, remains the fundamental threat to the long-term competitiveness of our steel and aluminum industries and their ability to meet our defense and critical infrastructure needs.

Past failed negotiations with China and other nations indicate a new strategy is needed. The U.S. must show that it is willing to employ meaningful broad-based trade action to ensure that our steel and aluminum industries remain competitive in the face of sustained predatory trade practices. The President’s upcoming visit to China and the G-20 forum in November will provide opportunities for securing meaningful concessions from China and other countries to reduce their excess steel and aluminum capacity. We urge you to conclude both Sec. 232 investigations and present the findings to the President before the President’s visit to China.

Thousands of steel and aluminum workers in our states support their families, their communities and our national security infrastructure. They deserve to compete on a level playing field. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN)

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)