Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R), along with six of their Senate colleagues, sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Defense Secretary James Mattis regarding the administration's investigation into trade practices involving aluminum. Bennet, Gardner, and their colleagues requested the administration "exempt rolled can sheet, as well as the primary aluminum and ingot milled into rolled can sheet, food and beverage cans, bottles, lids, and closures, from the investigation prompted by the Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce dated April 27, 2017. Such an exemption would help protect consumers from immediate price increases and support domestic jobs."
In April, the President directed the Secretary of Commerce in consultation with the Secretary of Defense to investigate whether foreign imports of aluminum are endangering our national security. Colorado is a major beer-producing state, and the results of this investigation could have an enormous impact on Colorado's beer industry.
Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), David Perdue (R-GA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and John Barrasso (R-WY) also signed the letter.
The letter reads in full:
Dear Secretaries Ross and Mattis:
We write to request that you exempt rolled can sheet, as well as the primary aluminum and ingot milled into rolled can sheet, food and beverage cans, bottles, lids, and closures, from the investigation prompted by the Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce dated April 27, 2017. Such an exemption would help protect consumers from immediate price increases and support domestic jobs.
Under section 232(b)(1)(A) of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 ("Section 232"), Congress permits the Secretary to initiate investigations against imported articles into the United States in order to "determine the effects [of such importation] on the national security." We are concerned, however, that the scope of this investigation could include aluminum that has no national security application, such as rolled can sheet, used to make aluminum cans and bottles, and primary aluminum, used to make rolled can sheet, food and beverage containers, lids, and closures.
Primary aluminum that is made into rolled can sheet is largely sourced from Canada. Because of this, companies that use these products depend on imports in order to make aluminum cans and bottles. For decades, the United States has run a trade deficit with respect to primary aluminum, the key raw material for producing all of the above products, due to a lack of domestic availability. Import restrictions or tariffs on these products could increase consumer prices, add hundreds of millions in costs for companies in the beverage industry, and potentially affect American manufacturing jobs in industries that rely on these products.
We hope you reach the same conclusion and look forward to continuing to work with you on this matter and other opportunities to strengthen the U.S. economy.