WASHINGTON — At a Senate Finance Hearing today with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill highlighted the drastic impact steel and aluminum tariffs are having on Missouri small businesses, including Mid Continent Nail Corporation in Poplar Bluff, which has seen severe losses that have led to layoffs and fear of closure.
“It appears to me that in a chaotic and frankly incompetent manner, you’re picking winners and losers on very technical bases according to all the reporting we have, without a great deal of training, and the regulatory burden is so extreme on small businesses,” McCaskill said to Secretary Ross at today’s hearing. “… The majority of nails that are manufactured in this country come from a company called Mid Continent Nail Corporation in Poplar Bluff, Missouri…So far, in response to the tariff, they have lost almost half of their business in one month due to price…So they’ve now laid off 60 of their 500 employees, they’ve idled their most sophisticated production facility in Poplar Bluff, and they are expected to cut 200 more jobs by the end of July, and the company that has visited with us at length believes they’ll be out of business by Labor Day.”
“Mid Continent, here in southeastern Missouri, is the last major U.S. nail manufacturer, but the 25 percent tariff on the wire we use to make our nails is pricing us out of the market,” said George Skarich, Mid Continent’s Executive Vice President for Sales. “Cheap nail imports from China and other countries don’t face this tariff and are increasing every day. We need our wire to be excluded from this tariff or we will have to increase the layoffs we’ve already begun. Mid Continent’s existence is threatened. As Senator McCaskill has helpfully pointed out time and time again, it makes no sense to use tariffs that help China and hurt American workers. Wasn’t the goal of these tariffs to Make America Great Again by bringing back good paying manufacturing jobs?”
In March, the Trump Administration announced 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum. Currently, only imports of steel and aluminum from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, and South Korea are exempted from the tariffs.
McCaskill has been a strong advocate on behalf of Missouri businesses and workers. As product-based exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs are stuck in a backlog and country-based exemptions from the largest suppliers of steel and aluminum imports received only temporary extensions, McCaskill advocated on behalf of Missouri small businesses facing large financial burdens from the tariffs by calling on Secretary Ross and the Administration to help small businesses navigate the tariff exemption process to give them much-needed certainty and transparency. McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate’s leading oversight committee, joined Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin to demand details from the U.S. Department of Commerce on why it decided to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports that could harm Missouri businesses.
McCaskill recently responded to a letter from a bipartisan group of sixteen Missouri State Senators expressing concerns over the Administration’s decision to impose tariffs on manufacturing and agriculture imports, and the drastic effects a potential trade war would have on Missouri’s economy. Last year, McCaskill raised the issue with Secretary Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that using national security trade laws to impose strict tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum would harm Missouri companies.
Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/jobs to learn more about McCaskill’s fight to boost job opportunities in Missouri.