In the Senate, a top Republican and Democrat agree: Trump administration is fumbling steel tariffs

By Heather Long

President Trump speaks at a union and apprentice training center in Richfield, Ohio. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images).

In a rare bipartisan rebuke of the Trump administration, Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) accused President Trump’s team of harming U.S. companies by failing to provide a clear and rapid process to get relief from new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

“We are concerned that, to date, the product-exclusion process has lacked basic due process and procedural fairness for stakeholders, especially American small businesses,” the senators wrote in a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

More than 3,800 applications requesting waivers from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs have been submitted to the Commerce Department, the letter said, but “fewer than 100” have been posted online, the next step in the application process. It’s a critical step because if a company does get a waiver from Trump’s tariffs, it will be retroactive to the date the application is posted online.

“The significant delays in publicly posting product-exclusion requests risk serious and permanent financial harm to many petitioners,” Hatch and Wyden wrote.

[There’s a ‘tsunami’ of companies applying for relief from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs]

The severe backlog is one of many red flags the senators raised and asked Ross to address quickly. The Commerce Department is trying to hire additional staff to review applications, but there’s widespread concern among business leaders and senators that companies have to wait days, if not weeks, for Commerce to post their applications.

The entire exclusion process is supposed to take 90 days, but the senators are concerned that companies won’t have a fair chance to make their case. Once an application goes online, there is supposed to be a 30-day period for U.S. steel and aluminum producers to object …read more