McCaskill Investigates Tariff Exclusion Process in Bipartisan Request

WASHINGTON – As part of her ongoing oversight of the Administration’s tariff and trade policies, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, this week joined Republican Chairman Ron Johnson in calling on four steel and aluminum companies to explain their role in the tariff exclusion process. This oversight comes as officials at the Department of Commerce stated that “they have not granted a single steel exclusion request that drew an objection.”

“In this ongoing trade war, the Administration is picking winners and losers without giving all Missouri companies a fair shake,” McCaskill said. “We have companies that have filed for exclusions, and don’t understand why no action is taking place.”

In a set of bipartisan letters, McCaskill and Johnson wrote to AK Steel Holding Corporation, Century Aluminum Company, Nucor Corporation, and U.S. Steel Corporation, all of which had filed objections with the Department of Commerce to tariff exclusion requests. The thousands of objections filed by AK Steel, Nucor, and U.S. Steel accounted for half of the exclusion requests that the Department of Commerce denied.

In their letters, the Senators wrote, “We respectfully write to request information about your company’s role in the tariff exclusion process. … U.S. businesses have reported that the exclusion process is time-consuming and burdensome. Business leaders have described the exclusion process as ‘miserable’ and expressed concerns about its arbitrary and uncertain nature.”

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where McCaskill serves as the top Democrat, has conducted ongoing oversight of the Administration’s trade policies. Earlier this week, McCaskill held a roundtable in St. Louis to hear from Missouri businesses and agriculture leaders about the economic impact of the Administration’s tariffs and trade policies on Missouri’s economy. In May, McCaskill joined Republican Chairman Ron Johnson of Wisconsin to demand details from the Department of Commerce on why it decided to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports that could harm Missouri businesses. In June, the two Senators also sent a bipartisan letter to the White House Council of Economic Advisers asking for details on its economic analysis that the Administration’s tariffs could be detrimental to economic growth.

McCaskill has been a strong advocate on behalf of Missouri businesses and workers—and in June toured Mid Continent Nail Corporation, the largest U.S. producer of steel nails, which was forced to reduce its workforce by more than 30 percent because of soaring costs and canceled sales resulting from tariffs that the Administration placed on the wire that the company uses to produce nails. Following China’s implementation of retaliatory tariffs that harm Missouri agriculture exports, including soybeans and pork, McCaskill called on the Administration to end the trade war that “shuts our farmers and ranchers out of critical markets.”

As product-based exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs are stuck in a backlog and country-based exemptions from the largest suppliers of steel and aluminum imports received only temporary extensions, McCaskill advocated on behalf of Missouri small businesses facing large financial burdens from the tariffs by calling on Secretary Ross and the Administration to help small businesses navigate the tariff exemption process to give them much-needed certainty and transparency. 

Read McCaskill’s letter to AK Steel HERE, her letter to Century Aluminum HERE, her letter to Nucor HERE, and her letter to U.S. Steel HERE.