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Elizabeth Warren: Trump administration letting foreign firms skip tariffs

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren is questioning the Trump administration's enforcement of stee...

Posted: Oct 31, 2018 11:38 PM
Updated: Oct 31, 2018 11:38 PM

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren is questioning the Trump administration's enforcement of steel tariffs, saying that a majority of early waivers granted went to foreign-owned companies.

Companies with operations in the United States, but headquartered in Japan and China, were more likely to have their requests granted than American companies seeking relief, according to a review done by Warren's staff of more than 900 decisions made during the first 30 days that responses were made available.

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"I write to express grave concern that the majority of the first batch of exemptions your department has issued from the Trump administration's steel tariffs have gone to subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies — even though these tariffs are purportedly in place to protect American companies," wrote Warren in a letter sent Tuesday to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

In March, the Trump administration imposed a 25% tariff on steel products imported into the United States. The duties are meant to protect domestic steel producers, which the administration deems crucial to the country's national security.

But the Commerce Department also allows importers to apply for a waiver from those tariffs if they can't find a domestic supplier for the product they need. Only entities located in the United States can apply for exclusions.

Warren, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, has been one of the loudest critics of President Donald Trump and his trade policies, which are a big part of his agenda. Trump moved forward with the steel tariffs even at the cost of losing his top economic adviser Gary Cohn, who argued against them.

In a statement sent to CNN Wednesday, the Commerce Department said Warren's analysis "betrays a lack of understanding of the exclusion process."

The agency stood by its process, calling it "fair and transparent." It was established to help supply Americans with steel that could not or would not be produced in the United States, the statement said.

Greenfield Industries, which manufactures a variety of drill bits made from steel, is one of the companies that was granted a waiver from the tariffs. In one of its applications, the company said that US steel suppliers cannot meet the demand for the "high speed steel" material it requires.

Warren's letter points out that Greenfield Industries is owned by TDC, a company based in China. But according to the company's application, it has been manufacturing in the United States since 1874. Its manufacturing facility in Seneca, South Carolina, employs more than 330 people, it said.

Greenfield became part of TDC in 2009, according to the company's website.

The exclusion process has been criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, for other reasons.

"Although you promised that the exclusion process would be 'fair and transparent,' a number of Wisconsin business leaders have expressed concerns to me about the uncertainty and arbitrary nature of the exclusion process," Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, wrote in a letter sent to Ross in August.

Many business owners say the process to apply for a waiver is lengthy and opaque. Domestic producers can try to block the request, and at first, the company asking for the exemption had no opportunity to respond to the objection. That was changed in September, months after the tariffs went into effect.

The waivers are temporary, lasting for one year. But most companies are still waiting for a ruling on their request. To date, 43,600 steel tariff requests have been filed, about 11,300 were approved and more than 4,000 were denied.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 159036

Reported Deaths: 3879
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
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Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
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