McCaskill criticizes tariffs, Commerce Department’s response

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill on Tuesday criticized the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs as a “blunt instrument that harms Missouri manufacturers” and called the Commerce Department’s tariff exclusion process “a colossal failure.”

In a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, expressed concerns about the negative effects of aluminium and steel tariffs on Missouri manufacturers.

The Commerce Department began accepting and evaluating exclusion requests in March. Calling the exclusion process “cumbersome,” McCaskill wrote that the department’s pace of processing those exclusions has been unacceptable.

The letter was the latest salvo in McCaskill’s ongoing attack on the administration’s trade policy: last week, she joined a bipartisan group of 88 senators in passing a non-binding resolution to give Congress more influence over tariffs imposed in the name of national security.

In her letter, McCaskill mentioned the impact of retaliatory tariffs imposed by other countries, saying tariffs aimed at the soybean industry have adversely affected Missouri growers.

She highlighted several manufacturing companies that have seen materials prices spike, including boat manufacturer White River Marine Group, part of the Springfield-based Bass Pro Group and one of the world’s largest producers of fishing and recreational boats.

She wrote that companies including CNC Machine Products, which imports steel from Japan and Sweden, had not heard back about an exemption request.

The letter also mentioned Mid Continent Nail Corporation, which McCaskill said was affected by layoffs at a supplier.

The Commerce Department must act more expediently to grant exclusions to those and other manufacturers whose survival has been threatened, McCaskill wrote.

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