Top Minnesota political leaders have requested to meet with President Obama to urge him to combat the dumping of foreign steel on the U.S. market now afflicting Minnesota's steel industry.
Gov. Mark Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Monday at a charity fundraiser for Iron Range food shelves that they hope the White House grants their request. The meeting would also include Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken and U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, Dayton said.
State leaders are reacting to turmoil in the country's steel industry, which has struggled to compete amid a glut of foreign steel they say is being unfairly underpriced by China and other countries. In Minnesota, hundreds of Iron Range miners are jobless after the idling of more than half of the state's taconite mines, Bakk said Monday. For some, unemployment benefits are ending this week, further adding to their economic plight.
"It's not just about a meeting," Dayton told reporters. "We want [Obama] to take action," under a provision of the U.S. Trade Act of 1979. Under that provision of federal law, the president can impose trade safeguards, such as tariffs on imports, while federal authorities conduct an expedited investigation of unfair trade practices.
Dayton, who like Bakk, has called for a special legislative session to extend unemployment benefits for idled miners on the Iron Range said federal officials need to act quickly.
"This is a very precarious situation and if we tip this industry over the brink, it will be virtually impossible to bring it back," he said.