REGIONAL— U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s advocacy for the U.S. steel industry received some well-timed recognition this week. At a ceremony on Tuesday at Hibbing Taconite, representatives of Cliffs …
REGIONAL— U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s advocacy for the U.S. steel industry received some well-timed recognition this week. At a ceremony on Tuesday at Hibbing Taconite, representatives of Cliffs Natural Resources and the American Iron and Steel Institute jointly announced that Nolan, a longtime DFLer, had been selected for a “2016 Congressional Steel Champion Award” from AISI.
Lourenco Goncalves, Cliffs Chairman, President and CEO, and Thomas J. Gibson, AISI President and CEO, presented the award. It was only the third time this year that the AISI presented the award to a member of Congress.
The honor comes as Nolan is locked in a tight re-election bid with Fleet Farm scion Stewart Mills. It also comes as hundreds of Iron Range workers have gone back to work in recent weeks due, in part, to stiff tariffs put in place on a variety of steel imports.
Despite the partial recovery in the industry, Mills has used the downturn to sharply criticize Nolan’s policies and question his commitment to steelworkers.
Nolan took Tuesday’s announcement as an opportunity to respond.
“We’ve been fighting hard in Washington to support and protect Minnesota’s workers in the iron ore and steel industries,” said Nolan, at Tuesday’s event. “The progress we’ve made is due to numerous appeals to the White House, the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission to bring the hammer down on illegal steel imports that devastated the Iron Range economy.”
According to Nolan, the newly-imposed tariffs and taxes have dramatically slowed foreign steel imports, allowing the domestic steel industry, and the iron mining industry, to begin to recover. “The foundation of our economic and military security is on the rebound,” said Nolan.
Goncalves credited Nolan for focusing the attention of the White House on the steel import crisis. Over the past two years, the American steel industry has been under attack from record levels of illegally dumped steel imports, said Goncalves, resulting in hardships for the companies and workers of the iron ore and steel sectors. “Rick Nolan has used his political stature to bring White House officials to the Iron Range to see first-hand the devastation caused by illegal steel dumping,” said Goncalves. “We are grateful for the Congressman’s leadership on this, and so many other issues. This award today is much-deserved, and we look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Congressman Nolan and Minnesota’s congressional delegation.”
Trump used foreign steel
Meanwhile, the presidential contest, a backdrop to local Congressional races every four years, emerged as an issue in its own right this week. According to an investigation by Newsweek, Donald Trump routinely used cheap Chinese steel and aluminum in construction projects in the U.S.
The revelation is a sharp contrast to Trump’s portrayal of himself on the campaign trail as a tireless advocate for America’s Rust Belt, particularly the U.S. steel industry.
Nolan’s campaign wasted no time in blasting Trump’s alleged hypocrisy and tying his practices to those supported by Mills, who has endorsed Trump.
“These revelations parallel Mr. Mills’ own business practices and support for free trade agreements,” said Nolan in a statement issued on Tuesday. “Mills claims one thing, and then goes around to his wealthy supporters saying ‘I am for free trade’. “Like Mr. Mills, Mr. Trump says he wants to renegotiate better trade deals, but his own business history proves that he goes out of his way to stick it to American workers, while getting rich from low-quality, government-subsidized steel from Communist China.”
The Mills campaign had no immediate response to the Newsweek investigation or the charges leveled by Nolan.