The Congressional Steel Caucus is backing the U.S. Department of Commerce's Section 232 investigation into whether imports threaten national security.
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, vice chairman of the caucus, and its bipartisan membership sent a letter of support saying that it was necessary for American steelworkers to make metal for aircraft carriers, armored vehicles, submarines and other military uses. They argued the United States could be vulnerable to foreign pressure in wartime if it failed to sustain its domestic steel industry.
"In order to ensure that steel continues to be made in America — and that we will never be vulnerable to foreign pressure or coercion in the event of a true national security emergency affecting the homeland or our interests around the world — something must be done to address the onslaught of imports affecting the industry," the caucus argued in the letter.
The market share of imported steel was back up to 28 percent in April, and it's climbed 23 percent over the first four months of 2017, as compared to the previous year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.
"These imports are often traded well below market value or are subsidized by foreign governments, preventing American companies from competing on a level playing field," the caucus wrote.
The United States currently has 191 tariffs on foreign steel, and 20 more investigations are under way, according to Visclosky's office. Congress also recently passed two new laws intended to crack down on the dumping of foreign steel.
"While we believe these actions have been helpful in addressing the ongoing steel import crisis, more must be done," the caucus wrote. "That is why we welcome the Department’s investigation into the impact of steel imports on national security. It is important that the federal government use every tool available to address this issue and carefully examine how unfairly traded steel is affecting the prosperity and security of this nation."