The steel industry is hailing a transportation bill that would provide more funding for infrastructure, which steelmakers have been lobbying for for years.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works last week gave its approval to the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 that sets aside $303.5 billion for Department of Transportation programs. The legislation is separate from the $1.7 trillion infrastructure bill the administration is proposing and the $928 billion counter-offer Congressional Republicans are pitching.
“The bill makes much-needed investments in the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure and is a significant step to rebuilding America’s highways, roads and bridges," American Iron and Steel Institute President and CEO Kevin Dempsey said. "Providing federal agencies and states with long-term, predictable funding allows them to commit to major steel-intensive infrastructure projects, and we are pleased that this measure is a critical step in that direction."
The legislation also includes the Buy America rules former Northwest Indiana U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky and current Rep. Frank Mrvan have long lobbied for.
"We also appreciate that under the bill Buy America rules will continue to require that steel purchased with federal funds for DOT infrastructure projects be melted and poured in the United States," Dempsey said. "An efficient and robust transportation network is essential to the competitiveness of the domestic steel industry, its customers and suppliers, and American manufacturing as a whole. We urge the full Senate to take up and pass substantial long-term infrastructure legislation in the coming weeks.”
The steel industry has long been pressing for more investment in rebuilding roads, bridges and other infrastructure as it would increase the demand for steel. While steel prices have been on the upswing since Cleveland-Cliffs consolidated much of the domestic industry, steel capacity utilization at steel mills like those along the lakeshore in Northwest Indiana remains under 80%.