#SteelBriefs Profile - Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)

Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)

The American steel industry employs nearly 140,000 workers, supports about a million jobs in the larger economy and is vital to nearly every aspect of modern life. #Steelbriefs highlights the opinions of steel advocates in Congress on key issues critical to the steel industry by profiling members of Congress who have worked to curtail the unfair foreign trade practices that have impacted the industry, and championed other issues critical to steel like transportation, infrastructure and energy. You can follow #SteelBriefs on the American Iron and Steel Institute Twitter (@AISISteel) and Facebook channels, as well as here on steel.org.

 

 


How does the steel industry benefit your district?
California’s 3rd District is home to a thriving steel recycling industry and a fast-growing manufacturing sector that depends on American steel. We are also a major heavy manufacturing transportation corridor, connecting multiple Northern California ports through our rail lines and highways. Much of the jobs created by these sectors wouldn’t exist without steel.

Why does a successful steel industry benefit the nation?
The steel industry directly employs 142,000 people in the United States, and it is an industry where Americans can still earn a good living through old-fashioned hard work. The steel industry is a close partner with American manufacturers, and the unions that represent steelworkers are one of America’s most important advocates for working people. When the steel industry thrives, the American economy is in much better shape.

Beyond the obvious economic benefits of a sector that creates good-paying jobs, the domestic steel industry is absolutely vital to America’s national security. America’s industrial base must retain the ability to produce the steel needed to build and maintain the infrastructure and military assets our citizens rely on in times of both war and peace. If we are to defend and advance the prosperity of America, we must be able to Make It In America, and steel is an important factor in that equation.

Why is it important to address unfair trade, especially with regard to the steel industry?
When foreign governments dump low-quality subsidized steel into America with inadequate oversight, it directly undermines American workers while creating inferior infrastructure. Low-quality Chinese steel was used for the Bay Bridge in a cost-cutting move, but it ended up creating cost overruns in the billions to fix problems we could have avoided using high-quality American-made steel. In fact, some of the bolts and other components are still causing headaches to this day. It was a wasteful travesty that such a large project didn’t use high quality American steel, and I’m doing everything I can in Congress to stop unfair trade deals that harm American steelworkers. I opposed the TPP because it didn’t do enough to advance American manufacturing, and I’m on alert for whatever comes next.

How would your constituents be affected if trade laws are not aggressively enforced?
They would continue to get inferior infrastructure while watching a critical American industry fall into decline. 3rd District residents, no matter what sector they work in, depend on the national security and job-creating benefits of a strong domestic steel sector.

How is the steel industry an example of environmental stewardship?
American steel manufacturers are subject to much more robust environmental oversight than their competitors in many other countries. American steel is not only high quality, but environmentally friendlier than that of foreign suppliers. We also need high quality steel for much of our clean energy infrastructure and green building design. I am a strong supporter of innovative partnerships that highlight the important relationship between domestic steel and environmental efforts, and appreciate that United Steelworkers is a major backer of the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of leading labor unions and environmental organizations. They understand the link between sustainable job creation, public health and safety, and environmental stewardship.

Why is national infrastructure investment important?
We need to make a major reinvestment in our nation’s deteriorating infrastructure: roads, transit, freight rail, bridges, tunnels, levees, dams, ports. Our infrastructure backlog extends far beyond what we are currently spending, It already costs the average American $3,400 a year, and the problem is only getting worse. Ramping up investments in infrastructure will create jobs, give commuters more options, facilitate the flow of goods and services, and save consumers money through reduced wear and tear and improved transit access – all of which grow the American economy. The steel industry plays a critical role in each of these modes of transportation.

Do you have any other comments or statements about the steel industry?
As the Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, I see many opportunities for continued partnership with the steel industry to revitalize American shipbuilding and related manufacturing. For instance, by 2020, the U.S. is expected to be the world’s third-largest producer of LNG for export, requiring about 100 or more LNG carriers. As well, crude oil exports could reach as high as 3.64 million barrels per day by 2025, which could require the use of between 180 and 380 oil tankers. Unless Congress takes action, ALL exported American LNG and crude oil traveling by ship will go on foreign-flag vessels made of foreign steel.

To address this issue, I have authored the Energizing American Shipbuilding Act, which create increased demand for American-made steel by:

• Requiring that 15% of exported crude oil and LNG travel on U.S.-built and -flag vessels starting in 2020;
• Requiring that 30% of exported crude oil and LNG travel on U.S.-built and -flag vessels starting in 2025;
• Requiring that exporters immediately create training opportunities for American mariners aboard export vessels so they can earn the credentialing required to assume these jobs.

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