Momentum Building as Trump Prepares Vital National Security Decision
Momentum is building for strong enforcement measures following the conclusion of national security investigations into steel and aluminum imports and President Trump’s frequent calls for action. After the president’s public remarks and Tuesday’s meeting with Republicans, the steel industry and workers are calling for President Trump to end the delay by acting decisively.
“America’s steel workers are hurting, their communities are on the brink, and each passing day without action puts our national security at further risk,” wrote Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) in a letter sent to President Trump Wednesday. “Immediate action is necessary to prevent this strategic industry – vital to our national security, defense requirements, and economic welfare – from falling into the hands of China, Russia, and other strategic competitors.”
The letter comes after more than 10 months of urging the White House to move on the investigations which faced multiple delays despite the president’s promise to decide by the end of last June. Meanwhile, steel imports rose over 15 percent in 2017, and at least three domestic steel mills have announced layoffs or closures.
“We heard the promises. Now it's time for action,” a new AAM cable network commercial launched on Tuesday says. “President Trump, America’s workers are counting on you to protect our jobs and to defend our national security.”
With less than a month and a half before Trump’s decision deadline, these ongoing efforts ask for quick action and come after months of growing support from Republican and Democratic Members of Congress, military leaders, and nearly 140,000 people who wrote the White House asking for action.
“We’re joining America’s workers to let President Trump know that his instincts are right about this,” said Paul. “Americans support action on trade and a robust decision will create new steel jobs and secure our industrial base.”
The need for action is clear, according to the Commerce Department’s recently released findings which point to at least 10 steel furnaces closing since 2000. America’s industry continues to face a glut of imports which decreased domestic capacity and threatened mills for decades. With only one domestic producer of steel for electrical transformers left, many worry that America will be forced to depend on foreign suppliers as the producer tries to compete with state-subsidized imports that rose 101 percent in 2017 alone.
“Arguments that Section 232 action leads to retaliation, hurts consumers, or should be only targeted at China are just wrong,” said Paul. “Overcapacity in the steel industry has had dire consequences for American steelworkers, and action by Trump will indicate that an era of trade surrender is over.”
With no clear evidence of cost increases caused by past usage of similar trade enforcement tools and a clear line to job creation, American workers hope the president’s decision comes sooner rather than later.
“We started with almost 800 people,” said Onika Rivera in an AAM video, “we’re down to 200 people working.”
The steel sector, military leaders, and Members of Congress have made it clear that it is time to act, says Paul. “And for the sake of those currently facing layoffs, we hope that step comes sooner rather than later.”