Today, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers blasted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for purchasing pipe sourced from China, as opposed to domestic producers, to construct a portion of the new border fence between the United States and Mexico.
U.S. Reps. Phil English (R-Pa.), Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) and Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) criticized the Administration's decision to use Chinese standard pipe to prop up a portion of the U.S.-Mexican border fence, which is currently being constructed to crack down on illegal immigration.
"By allowing Chinese imports to replace American production for important parts of this huge public works project, DHS has dropped a pipe bomb into the public worksites all over America. By converting this fence into a Great Wall of China, the Washington bureaucrats have under cut the living standards of workers throughout America, using their own tax dollars," said English, Vice-Chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus. "This is the ultimate travesty for working families in communities that have seen their factories and jobs flee to China while Washington has ignored the laws already on the books to protect them. It will take more than a coat of white wash to clear away this outrageous mistake."
"In Northwest Indiana, we have seen first hand the negative effects of Chinese steel being dumped into our marketplace," said Visclosky, Chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus. "For our national security and our economic security, it is critical that high-quality, American-made steel be used on to build our nation's infrastructure projects."
In September, a steelworker in English's district brought forward a photo of Chinese pipe being used in the construction of the new border fence between the United States and Mexico. After English conducted an independent investigation, sources from DHS have confirmed that the fencing in the photo was located in western San Luis, Arizona. The site evaluation indicated that approximately 60, (less than 10 percent), of over 700 posts at the site were marked with "China."
At a press conference on Capitol Hill, the House lawmakers cited a variety of concerns regarding the use of the Chinese pipe on the border fence, including the adverse impact on American employers, among others.
All of the participants in today's press conference have advocated trade policies to strengthen American trade laws to further level the playing field for American manufacturers. In recent years, unfair foreign trade practices have resulted in numerous lay-offs and shop closings across the country. China's mercantilist trading practices in particular have had devastating impacts on the American steel industry.
"So often China doesn't play by the rules like we do, which has been exemplified in unsafe exports and their currency manipulation," said Hayes. "I believe it is important that American made products are being used to build our fence that will help us diminish illegal immigration. It is also important to preserve a strong industrial base to ensure not only that we are protecting American jobs but also our economic security."
"By not purchasing American-made products, the federal government sends the wrong message to American businesses and workers," said Congressman Jason Altmire. "Steel companies in my district and across the country are struggling because of China's unfair trade practices. The Administration should not reward China's flagrant disregard for U.S. trade law by making deals with Chinese steel pipe manufacturers. Instead, our federal government should put American companies and their workers first."
To address the ongoing concerns of the use of Chinese pipe on the border fence, the Caucus has invited the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff to testify on a related hearing on safety concerns with respect to the quality of imported Chinese pipe. The hearing will take place on October 31st.
Today's press event highlighted a very critical, but little known issue. Participants in today's event will continue to work together to explore the use of Chinese pipe on the border fence and support policies that will ensure American manufacturers have the necessary tools they need to compete in the today's competitive global market.