A trade commission hearing on illegal steel dumping was cancelled because of the federal government shutdown, and U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky warned it could have ominous repercussions for the local steel industry.
Visclosky had been slated to testify Thursday before the U.S. International Trade Commission. U.S. Steel and other steelmakers have asked the commission to impose tariffs that would stop South Korea, India and seven other countries from dumping subsidized steel in United States at below-cost prices, in violation of international trade agreements.
Domestic steelmakers have accused nine countries of flooding the U.S. market with tubular steel for gas and oil pipelines, which ArcelorMittal makes at Indiana Harbor in East Chicago and U.S. Steel makes in Ohio.
The trade commission had been weighing the case, but announced earlier this week the federal government shutdown forced it to suspend all investigations and reviews. All hearings and conferences have been postponed.
"The cancellation of today's hearing is just one example of how this government shutdown adversely impacts our economy and costs American jobs," Visclosky said. "It is unfortunate that the U.S. International Trade Commission has ceased their investigative activities as a result of this shutdown. This has given foreign nations and companies free reign to continue to violate our trade laws and jeopardize the livelihood of American workers."
Visclosky serves as vice chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, a bipartisan group of 100 members of Congress who represent districts with steel manufacturers or have a strong interest in the American steel industry.
He warned the shutdown threatens Northwest Indiana's steel industry.
"We need to restore our government operations and lead with courage," he said. "I urge the House of Representatives leadership to reopen our government."