U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st--and vice chair of the Congressional Steel Caucus-- addressed the Caucus this morning at its hearing on the state of the steel industry.
Excerpts from Visclosky’s address:
“First, I want to emphasize that the expected placement of the Section 232 steel tariffs this week is happening because of the tireless work of our steelworkers and our steel companies who have brought repeated attention to the real threat that exists from unfair trading practices around the world.
“Over the past decades, through an unwavering determination to fight unfair dumping and the subsidizing of steel brought into the United States, the USW, steel companies, and steel associations have compiled massive amounts of evidence before the International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, showing that our domestic industry is injured by illegal steel imports. They have continued to bring light to the national security threat that faces our country should illegal steel imports continue to undermine our domestic ability to make the best steel in the world. . . .
“On a legal and level playing field, American steelworkers can compete with anyone in the world, and the U.S. government has a responsibility to ensure that a legal and level playing field is maintained every day. As we move forward, I will continue to closely follow how the steel tariffs are being implemented, including any developments as it relates to the timeframe or duration of the tariffs, and exemptions or modifications for countries or products.
“I believe that these tariffs are just one front in our efforts to address the global excess steel capacity, which currently stands around 700 million metric tons. In order to continue to investigate the trading practices of countries that do no play by our market-based rules, the International Trade Commission (ITC) and International Trade Administration (ITA) under the Department of Commerce need appropriate funding.
“I regret that the President cut funding for the ITC by $5 million and the ITA by $40 million in his FY 2018 budget request, and again cut funding for the ITC by $4.4 million and the ITA by $50 million in his FY 2019 budget request. We cannot investigate and enforce our trade laws if these federal agencies do not have the resources they need to do their jobs.
“I would also note that the President removed several Buy America provisions in his FY 2018 and FY 2019 budget requests for the Department of Defense. These Buy America provisions ensure that taxpayer dollars are used to support military products that use iron and steel, and are manufactured from start to finish by American workers. Such products include Navy oiler ships, anchor and mooring chains, armor steel plate, and ball and roller bearings.
“Without American steel, the Department of Defense would be forced to rely on foreign imports, which would be unacceptable during a national emergency or military conflict. As we move forward in the appropriations process, I will continue to press for appropriate funding for the ITC and the ITA, and I will continue to fight for the inclusion of strong Buy America requirements.”