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Senator to hold US Commerce nominees until steel/aluminum action is clear

New York — US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) is putting a hold on the Senate floor on two top pending Commerce Department nominees "until the Commerce Department provides a satisfactory and meaningful response on the progress of critical investigations that will help protect our upstate steel and aluminum companies," he said late Tuesday in a statement.

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In recent days, Schumer has been expressing his frustration with the administration's failure to resolve the ongoing Section 232 investigations into the impact of steel and aluminum imports on national security. As Senate Minority Leader, he plans to stall the nominations of Gil Kaplan for Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade and Nazakhtar Nikakhtar for Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Industry and Analysis.

Schumer and eight other Senate Democrats also wrote a letter to President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urging them to complete these investigations as soon as possible.

"Upstate New York companies like Alcoa and Nucor want to provide high-quality aluminum and steel to businesses in and around the country, but overproduction from China and other countries is threatening Upstate New York's metal industry by making it almost impossible for companies that play by the rules to compete," said Schumer.

"While the administration once preached efforts to crack down on China, it now appears they were just reading us a fairy tale of promises, which actually does not live up to a real crackdown on foreign predatory trade practices," he added.

The separate 232 investigations into the impact of steel and aluminum imports on national security were initiated by Commerce in April with much fanfare by the administration amid promises of swift findings and subsequent action. The investigations, which could result in the introduction of tariffs, duties or other measures, typically take 270 days, but the administration said it was fast-tracking the investigation and expected to release the results by the end of June.

In recent weeks, industry leaders have also become increasingly vocal -- and disenchanted -- about the lack of any findings and actions to date.

Schumer is also urging that the administration take actions to safeguard Upstate New York's aluminum and steel industries' long-term competitiveness by prioritizing concessions to eliminate steel and aluminum subsides from China, defending US trade enforcement laws at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and challenging China's aluminum subsides at the WTO.

Related: Find more content about Trump's administration in our news and analysis feature.

--Joe Innace,

--Edited by James Leech,