Senator Joe Donnelly

Donnelly Calls on President Obama to Double-Down on Addressing Domestic Steel Industry Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly sent a letter to President Obama urging him to focus on addressing illegal steel imports that are flooding the U.S. steel market and causing a domestic steel industry crisis.  

Donnelly wrote, in part:   

“I write to you today on behalf of a domestic steel industry that is facing a crisis. Illegally traded imports are flooding the domestic market, diminishing U.S. production, and resulting in plants being idled and significant layoffs—more than 12,000 across the country last year. I appreciate the Administration’s recognition of this problem, but we must act with more urgency to ensure the continued solvency of this vital industry. I implore you to double-down on your efforts to combat illegal trade.

 

“…Congress has recently taken action by enacting the Leveling the Playing Field Act and the ENFORCE Act to help the steel industry investigate and better fight unfair trade practices. With additional personnel and these new congressionally approved tools in place, I strongly encourage your Administration to act quickly to prioritize enforcement. 

“The status quo is not acceptable when facilities are closing and steelworkers are losing jobs. There are several important trade enforcement cases coming to the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission this year impacting the steel industry. It is crucial that you use every tool in your toolbox to combat illegal trade because communities across Indiana are relying on it.” 

Donnelly highlighted that domestic steel production has dramatically decreased in recent years as foreign producers—namely those in China—intentionally flood our markets. As a result, Indiana saw an 8% downturn in production last year. In addition, the surge in foreign steel imports—36% in 2014—has led to thousands of men and women across Indiana seeing hours cut back and smaller paychecks. 

Donnelly has fought for Indiana’s steel industry by: helping pass the Leveling the Playing Field Act and ENFORCE Act to ensure steel companies can fight unfair trade practices before the damage is already done; testifying in-person at the International Trade Commission on behalf of the Hoosier steel industry; and writing numerous letters on trade enforcement cases in support of applying tariffs on unfairly traded steel products. 

Full text of Donnelly’s letter to the President follows.

 

 

March 9, 2016

 

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500


Dear President Obama, 

I write to you today on behalf of a domestic steel industry that is facing a crisis. Illegally traded imports are flooding the domestic market, diminishing U.S. production, and resulting in plants being idled and significant layoffs—more than 12,000 across the country last year. I appreciate the Administration’s recognition of this problem, but we must act with more urgency to ensure the continued solvency of this vital industry. I implore you to double-down on your efforts to combat illegal trade.  

Since 1980, Indiana has routinely led the nation in steel production and accounts for one quarter of all U.S. steel capacity. The steel industry directly employs more than 23,000 Hoosiers and, in turn, supports an estimated 160,000 more jobs in my state. With dozens of steel-related facilities in Indiana—from East Chicago to Crawfordsville to Rockport—communities across the state rely on these well-paying jobs to drive their local economies.  

Recently, however, domestic steel production has dramatically decreased as foreign producers—like those in China—intentionally flood our markets. As a result, the industry currently has about a 65% capacity utilization rate and in Indiana we saw an 8% downturn in production last year. Compare that to China which has witnessed a stunning 540% production increase since 2000. This surge in foreign steel imports— 36% in 2014—is the reason why thousands of men and women working in communities across Indiana are seeing hours cut back and smaller paychecks. 

I support your recent executive orders to increase personnel and inspections to address the problem of steel overcapacity. Congress has recently taken action by enacting the Leveling the Playing Field Act and the ENFORCE Act to help the steel industry investigate and better fight unfair trade practices. With additional personnel and these new congressionally approved tools in place, I strongly encourage your Administration to act quickly to prioritize enforcement. 

The status quo is not acceptable when facilities are closing and steelworkers are losing jobs. There are several important trade enforcement cases coming to the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission this year impacting the steel industry. It is crucial that you use every tool in your toolbox to combat illegal trade because communities across Indiana are relying on it.  

Sincerely,

 

Joe Donnelly

U.S. Senator Indiana

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