#SteelBriefs Profile - Representative Tim Murphy (R) PA-18

Representative Tim Murphy (R) PA-18

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.

Representative Tim Murphy (R) PA-18 is the Chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus.

What is the Congressional Steel Caucus?

Founded in the early 1970’s the Congressional Steel Caucus has grown into a broad and bipartisan coalition of more than 130 Members of Congress dedicated to protecting the American steel industry. The Steel Caucus is one of the most active caucuses in Congress, bringing together leaders from the domestic steel industry as well as Members of Congress in a public forum where they can discuss real policy solutions that level the playing field for American steel producers. As Chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, my focus has been on ensuring that the current trade remedy laws, that I helped successfully move through Congress and get signed into law, are being fully enforced to punish foreign competitors who engage in illegal trade practices.

What has the Congressional Steel Caucus accomplished in the past year?

The Congressional Steel Caucus shepherded historic trade enforcement legislation through Congress and to the President’s desk for his signature this past legislative session. Our efforts mark the first time in over 20 years Congress has made such an impact to our nation’s trade remedy laws to protect American steelworkers. With enactment of the Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act and the Trade Preferences Extension Act, these new laws give the federal government the legal foundation to fight back against illegal trading practices being used by foreign competitors to destroy the American steel industry. Vital provisions were included to ensure anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) are being accurately assessed and collected at the U.S. border to hold foreign cheaters accountable and to protect American jobs.

How are Congress’ trade enforcement tools working to protect American steel producers?

As a result of the trade legislation the Steel Caucus helped get signed into law, steel companies are seeing positive results in the dumping and subsidy cases they have filed since enactment of the legislation last year. The Commerce Department’s investigations have yielded ample evidence of foreign companies cheating, resulting in more favorable trade case determinations by Commerce. Additionally, the ITC must now consider a broader range of factors when determining whether or not injury has been inflicted on the domestic industry. For example, the ITC recently found that the U.S. industry was injured in various cases involving imports of cold-rolled steel and corrosion resistant steel products. Thanks to our trade legislation, Commerce will soon issue instructions to CBP for the collection of AD/CVD tariff duties of up to 248% so they can provide swift relief to American petitioners harmed by these imports. Under the old legal framework, US companies would rarely receive substantial trade relief like this and would have to wait until they went out of business in order to prove they had been harmed by trade cheats like China. We also passed legislation that provided CBP with enhanced authority to combat evasion of these orders once they are in place. All too often foreign producers are deploying schemes to evade the payment of anti-dumping and countervailing duties and Congress enacted stronger trade enforcement provisions that will help CBP ensure they are enforcing the remedies put in place by Commerce and the ITC and collecting the correct amount of duties.

We have taken significant action to fight unfair trade practices, however, this legislation will only work if strong enforcement standards remain at the forefront of the Obama Administration’s agenda. I recently sent a letter, along with Vice-Chairman Visclosky, to President Obama asking for an update on the success of Congress’ trade enforcement legislation that we helped pass. The President responded in July explaining that the public laws have already delivered significant improvements to the American steel industry. Congress’ trade legislation has assisted the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in investigating more new AD/CVD cases than it has in over a decade at a total of 338 antidumping AD/CVD orders with an additional 43 cases expected by the end of 2016.

What currently is the biggest issue facing the U.S. steel industry?

With global excess steel capacity reaching up to 700 million metric tons this past year alone, global overcapacity crisis is one of the biggest problems facing the domestic steel industry. The onslaught of foreign imports from numerous nations around the world has proven to be disastrous for the domestic market as China has surpassed the United States and become the global leader in steel production accounting for half of the world’s steel production. China’s government practices and policies gave rise to smog-choked steel cities that have created an unfair playing field where American steel producers continually lose. In 2015, the United States’ steel industry lost more than 13,000 direct jobs in the steel industry and 91,000 indirect jobs as a result of this import crisis. The glut of cheap Chinese steel has resulted in dozens of mills including those in Fairfield, Alabama, Ashland, Kentucky, Granite City, Illinois, as well as a number of iron ore mines in Minnesota to close their doors and lay off thousands of hard-working Americans. That is why Vice-Chairman Peter Visclosky and I sent two letters to the President demanding swift action to address the global overcapacity issue at hand. Congress provided the Administration with the trade enforcement tools necessary to safeguard American steel producers, now it is time for the Administration to use them.

What are your thoughts on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement?

Since 2000, the United States has lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs due to foreign countries like China undercutting American workers with cheap labor and government subsidization. The American manufacturing base simply cannot afford to take another damaging blow to our economy and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be just that. Given that the United States has already lost millions of jobs to the TPP’s current trading partners due to illegal trading practices such as currency manipulation, I sat down this summer with U.S. Trade Representative and TPP chief negotiator Michael Froman to express my concerns with flaws in the trade proposal, including country of origin rules and currency manipulation.

Last Monday, I joined five of my House colleagues in sending a letter to President Barack Obama emphasizing widespread concerns regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership and urging the President to not force a vote on this controversial deal in a “Lame Duck” Congress. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) consists of more than 5,600 pages of text and I have long voiced my concern over the consequence of hastily forcing a vote without Members of Congress being allowed to fully understand what they are voting on and both the national and local impact of this disastrous trade agreement. TPP fails to address currency manipulation and misses the mark on ratifying the low threshold of Rules of Origin to stop backdoor trade cheats. Therefore, it is imperative that the Administration renegotiates the agreement to make it a trade deal where American workers win.

What do you and the Steel Caucus have planned next?

Stopping China’s market economy bid has also been one of our top legislative priorities this past year. During the Congressional Steel Caucus’ annual ‘State of Steel’ hearing, I unveiled two letters that garnered the support of more than 50 Members of Congress and were sent to U.S. trade officials - Ambassador Michael Froman and Secretary Penny Pritzker, as well as the European Union’s Ambassador David O’Sullivan. Both of these letters urged US and European trade officials to oppose automatic granting of market economy status for China at the end of 2016. The Steel Caucus has continued to remain engaged on this issue and recently partnered with the Manufacturer for Trade Enforcement (MTE) Coalition in hosting a Congressional Briefing to bring awareness to China’s unwarranted market-economy bid and to explore plausible solutions.

As a result of these recent stakeholder discussions, Vice-Chairman Peter Visclosky and I will also soon be introducing a Congressional Resolution urging the Department of Commerce to ensure that China and any foreign country designated as a non-market economy retain that status until the Department of Commerce determines that the country’s economy truly operates on market principles. Automatically granting China market economy status will undo all of the legislative wins that the Steel Caucus and Congress has delivered this past year by ensuring that U.S. companies have the full ability to bring anti-dumping lawsuits against China and any other foreign country that cheats. This resolution will not only urge the Department of Commerce to maintain China’s non-market economy status, but also protect millions of American manufacturing jobs from the onslaught of illegal foreign imports.