President Trump suggested on Tuesday that the United States was likely to impose restrictions on imported metals, reviving the prospects for a continuing investigation whose future has been called into question amid months of pushback and delays.
Meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, the president said such restrictions would help save struggling steel companies from foreign competitors that “dump” low-priced metal on American markets. “What we’re talking about is tariffs and/or quotas,” Mr. Trump said.
The White House had billed the meeting as a listening session to let lawmakers air concerns about pending actions on aluminum and steel imports, as well as Mr. Trump’s infrastructure plan that was proposed on Monday and current trade measures like the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
In April, the president began twin investigations into imports of steel and aluminum under the little used Section 232 of a 1962 trade law, which permits sweeping restrictions to protect national security. Supporters of the action say American metal makers badly need the assistance to survive and continue producing planes, armored vehicles and other products for the military.
But the measure also has plenty of critics, who fear that such restrictions amount to a protectionist grab by metal makers and will raise prices for steel and aluminum. They argue that because the metals are widely used to make other products, other industries — including automobile and recreational vehicle manufacturers and food packagers — would suffer.
Representative Jackie Walorski, Republican of Indiana and co-chair of the House RV Caucus, warned that price increases could affect the recreational vehicles made in her district. Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan, noted that the auto parts industry relied on inexpensive metals. And Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said that past tariffs imposed in 2002 by President George W. Bush on steel had cost jobs for auto parts companies.
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