Senate

Schumer blocking two Trump trade nominees

Camille Fine

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that he would block two of President Trump’s trade policy nominees over a delay in imposing tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

Schumer told The New York Times that he will block the nominations of Gilbert Kaplan and Nazakhtar Nikakhtar to the Commerce Department until the Trump administration imposes the tariffs meant to protect U.S. manufacturers from cheap Chinese products.

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“They’ve just dragged their feet and delayed and delayed,” Schumer told the newspaper. “The bottom line is the president has been a total paper tiger on this issue, and as a result, we feel the need to hold up nominees for the Commerce Department.”

In April, Trump signed executive orders directing his administration to investigate whether steel and aluminum imports from China and other countries threaten national security.

But the administration has been slow to impose the tariffs, and steel imports have climbed 20 percent since the investigations were announced.

“This has been a bit of a letdown in the industrial heartland,” United Steelworkers International president Leo Gerard said in an August interview with The New York Times.

“A lot of our members supported the president because of what he said about steel and manufacturing.”

Kaplan has been nominated for the top international trade post at the Commerce Department, while Nikakhtar is Trump’s pick for assistant secretary of Commerce.

The two nominees can still be approved even with Schumer’s hold on the nominations, but it would force the Senate to take part in a time-consuming cloture vote.

In July, Trump signaled that his trade agenda would take a lower priority behind legislative agenda items such as repealing ObamaCare and tax reform.

“You can’t just walk in and say I’m going to do this,” Trump said. “You have to do statutory studies … It doesn’t go that quickly.”

“We’re waiting till we get everything finished up between health care and taxes and maybe even infrastructure,” he said. 

Tags Charles Schumer China Manufacturing Trade Unions United States Donald Trump Presidency of Donald Trump Chuck Schumer Business First 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency

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