U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky and another ranking member of the Congressional Steel Caucus are seeking a private meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the import surge facing the American steel industry. “Congress has acted to support the American steel industry. It is now time for the administration to take the next step,” Visclosky said.
Kevin Spicer, communications director for Visclosky, D-Merrillville, said the White House has confirmed receipt of the letter, which was written by Visclosky, who serves as vice chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, and U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., the caucus’ chairman, and sent by email and post on May 11.
He did not say whether the president would meet with the two congressmen. In the letter, the congressmen state that despite the industry’s significance to the nation’s economy and national security, an unprecedented surge in illegally traded imports have resulted in numerous mills across the country to close their doors, causing more than 13,000 employees to be laid off this past year.
In Northwest Indiana, steel giant ArcelorMittal idled its 84-inch hot strip mill at its Indiana Harbor facility in East Chicago in March, but all 300 of the affected workers were expected to find jobs elsewhere within the company. They wrote that the surge could result in the loss of more than 600,000 jobs if it isn’t curbed.
Visclosky and Murphy urged the administration to reject China’s bid to be re-designated to having market economy status in the World Trade Organization, pointing out that the country’s government-owned and government-supported steel companies subsidize their steel products’ prices to the point that American companies can no longer compete.
“Recognition of China as a market economy by the WTO would be devastating to the American steel market and its supply chain, costing upwards of 600,000 additional job losses and sending catastrophic shock waves across the entire United States economy,” the letter stated.
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