FEATURED:

Action to protect American steel workers crosses our party lines

Action to protect American steel workers crosses our party lines
© Getty Images

In President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE’s State of the Union address, trade experts across the nation were disappointed that the president wasn’t more specific on what trade action he plans to initiate over the coming months to help American workers. While I disagree with the president on many issues, it’s imperative that we as a country protect tens of thousands of American steel jobs that are under threat due to foreign governments not playing by the rules.

In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Commerce formally submitted to President Trump the results of its investigation into the effects of steel imports on U.S. national security. President Trump now has a 90-day window to review the Commerce Department’s report and take action based on these findings.

ADVERTISEMENT
Global overcapacity and surging steel imports have decimated the domestic steel industry and the many steel workers who rely on it. Over a million jobs nationwide rely on a stable and strong U.S. steel industry, but since the Section 232 steel investigation commenced in 2017, imports skyrocketed as the response was delayed.

The surge of foreign steel from around the world over the last decade has forced many domestic steel mills to close, while many others operate at unsustainably low capacity utilization. China may be at the epicenter of the crisis, but U.S. allies are now among the largest sources of unfair imports.

It doesn’t matter whether imports come from friend or foe. This is a threat to our men and women in uniform, who rely on American steel for weapons and armor, and to critical U.S. infrastructure, which relies on immediate supply for emergency repairs and maintenance. It is a global problem that demands a comprehensive solution.

As someone who has long worked on forging a stronger national security infrastructure to defend against our enemies around the world, I know that we face too many threats to remain complacent in the face of adversity. Unprecedented challenges threaten to drive us apart and divide us as a nation.

Safeguarding our national security and critical infrastructure should not be one of those challenges. The U.S. military relies on domestic steel production to support and protect our troops, who put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe back home. Our soldiers depend on a healthy domestic steel market to fortify their tanks and armor their vehicles. Yet, global overcapacity exacerbates this threat to the U.S. steel industry.

As a Democrat, I will admit it has been hard at times to watch the Trump presidency, but I will give him credit where credit is due. Yet, one year into his presidency, many of his promises remain unfulfilled, especially protecting the steel workers.

What makes this issue even more unique, however, is the level of bipartisan support it has received. President Trump often talks about bridging the divide between the two parties. Acting in support of American steel and national security could prove to be an important step as he enters his second year in the Oval Office.

There are democratic partners who are willing to work with this administration to provide meaningful relief to hard working Americans across the nation. From states like Indiana and New York, to Pennsylvania and North Carolina, Americans are calling out for support from the administration, and they want President Trump to be the man of action they saw on the campaign trail.

Acting swiftly and decisively on this Section 232 steel investigation would be a valuable way for President Trump and his administration to stay true to his campaign promises and restore faith in industries decimated by unfair trade practices that have plagued American industry and, as a result, national security. Global overcapacity threatens more than just our workers, it also jeopardizes our national security.

This goal is eminently within reach, but it will require immediate action by the Trump administration. American steel workers and domestic national security cannot afford to wait any longer. Now is the time for President Trump to take action on the Section 232 investigation, or a lot of our steel workers will be hurt.

Bill Richardson, a former governor of New Mexico, served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy and ambassador to the United Nations.