In Light of Commerce IG Finding, Carper Renews Call for Increased Fairness, Certainty Regarding Misguided Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, released the following statement regarding the Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) finding that a lack of transparency has contributed to “the appearance of improper influence” in decision-making for the steel and aluminum tariff exclusion process.


In 2018, President Trump used Section 232 of the Trade Act of 1962 to impose 25-percent tariffs on steel and 10-percent tariffs on aluminum on manufacturers. Even though manufacturers could apply for an exclusion from these misguided tariffs, the Commerce Department’s process to do so generated a large backlog of petitions and has placed significant burdens on American businesses, including many in Delaware. Last year, Senator Carper joined Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) to request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent federal watchdog, investigatethe exclusion process. 


“For nearly two years now, businesses and manufacturers in Delaware have been dealing with a lose-lose situation. First, they were hit with President’s Trump astronomical tariffs on the steel and aluminum that they need for their operations. Then, when they are told that they can apply to seek much-needed relief from these tariffs, they have faced a slow, confusing and unfair process at the Department of Commerce. The folks who help drive our economy are already feeling the effects of President Trump’s reckless trade wars. They shouldn’t be even further burdened when they simply try to navigate an exclusion process set up by the Trump Administration.


“Just last week, I hosted a roundtable in Newark, Delaware to hear firsthand from manufacturers across our state about the impacts of these tariffs on their day-to-day operations. There’s no doubt that they are feeling the strain. But these folks weren’t asking for any special treatment or handouts when it came to tariff exclusions. Instead, they just wanted to know the rules of the road, receive the timely answers that they need to make decisions for their businesses and have confidence that the process was fair. Now, with confirmation from the Commerce Department IG that this process has been set up for only a select few to succeed, I hope that all workers and businesses in Delaware, and across this country, receive the increased transparency and certainty that they need and deserve going forward.”