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Following Request by Sens. Toomey, Jones, and Carper, GAO to Review Commerce Department’s 232 Exclusion Process

December 19, 2018
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Washington, D.C. - Following a request from U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has announced it will review the steel and aluminum tariff exclusion process early next year.

Senators Toomey, Jones, and Carper initially asked the GAO to review Commerce's tariff exclusion process in November 2018. You may read GAO's reply to Senators Toomey, Jones, and Carper here.

"These taxes on steel and aluminum imports - which were established under the false pretense of ‘national security' - are hurting American workers and consumers," said Senator Toomey. "Making matters worse is Commerce's broken exclusion process, which should be providing relief in applicable cases. I hope GAO's review produces recommendations for fixing this flawed process so more Americans are spared from these onerous taxes."

"This is great news for the tens of thousands of American job-creators who have been caught up in the Commerce Department's backlog while seeking exclusions from steel and aluminum tariffs," said Senator Jones. "I look forward to seeing the results of the GAO's investigation and working toward a solution that can offer relief for businesses."

"As of this fall, the Department of Commerce had received nearly 50,000 exclusion petitions from American manufacturers seeking relief from these misguided tariffs. The Commerce Department has not only created a broken and convoluted exclusion process, but the agency has only managed to issue decisions in a third of these 50,000 pending cases," said Senator Carper. "The fact that our government's independent watchdog will conduct a review will come as welcome news for the many workers and businesses, including many in Delaware, who have raised serious concerns about this process and are looking for increased transparency and certainty going forward."

The Commerce Department exclusion process for the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum has generated a large backlog of petitions and has placed significant burdens on American businesses. The 25-percent tariffs on steel and 10-percent tariffs on aluminum were the result of a Trade Act of 1962 section 232 investigation that examined whether these imports threatened U.S. national security. By the end of October, Commerce had received 49,301 exclusion petitions (including resubmissions) and had issued decisions for just 16,567 (34 percent) of them.