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The U.S. Congressional Steel Caucus held its most optimistic annual hearing in years in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.

Congressional Steel Caucus Chairman Tim Murphy, R-Pennsylvania, and Vice Chairman Pete Visclosky, D-Indiana, hosted “America Rebounding: Steel in 2017 and Beyond” to hear from steelmakers and union officials on the state of the U.S. steel industry.

"As we approach 2017 and beyond, I remain concerned about the staggering amount of excess steel capacity in the world and the predatory trade actions of foreign countries," Visclsoky said in his opening remarks. "This past year I testified before the International Trade Commission on eight separate occasions in support of American steelworkers and their families. These cases pertained to the illegal actions of 18 separate countries, including China."

State-owned enterprises that are protected against free-market pressures violate international trade laws, such as by using subsidies, Visclosky said. He called for Buy American requirements and urged Congress to support steelworkers through the appropriations process, trade cases, and potential infrastructure legislation this year.

"Additionally, as the ranking member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, I know that steel is an essential component of our national defense," he said. "It is necessary to build our ships, submarines, military vehicles, vests, and countless other types of equipment. 22 tons of steel are used in every U.S. Abrams tank. 50,000 tons of steel are used in every U.S. aircraft carrier, and half of that steel is produced in Northwest Indiana."

AK Steel Corp. Chief Executive Officer Roger Newport testified the domestic steel industry has benefited from the new administration's policies.

“The steel industry touches most facets of the American economy and we continue to make substantial investments to support the future needs of our customers through product innovation,” Newport said. “We made significant investments to create new grades of light-weight, high-strength steel for cars and trucks in order to help the automotive industry meet emissions standards. We were pleased that the Administration recently announced it would reinstate the mid-term CAFE Standards review."

Newport and other executives warned that trade threats remain. They encouraged strong trade enforcement and aggressively negotiated trade deals.

“Imports continue to take about 26 percent of the U.S. market share – well above historical levels," Newport said. "Additionally, we are seeing substantial imports come in from countries not named in the trade cases. Meanwhile, domestic raw steelmaking capacity utilization has remained depressed with current levels still below 75 percent and thousands of employees still on layoff and over 14,400 jobs have been lost in the steel industry since the beginning of 2015."


Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.