June 16,1999

Roth Comments on Steel Legislation

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Finance Committee today marked up a bill authored by Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. to address the problems facing the U.S. steel industry. Chairman Roth made the following comments about the legislation:

"Before we turn to the Steel Trade Enforcement Act of 1999, I'd like to say a few words. I have proposed this legislation for a number of reasons. This Committee heard testimony as far back as January from steel producers and unions on the problems facing the U.S. steel industry. On March 23, the Committee held a hearing specifically on the steel situation, and heard from consuming industries as well as producing industries and unions.

"On March 17, the House passed H.R. 975, the steel quota bill, by a substantial margin. This bill will be voted on by the Senate some time next week, and I take seriously the prospect that the forces behind this measure could convince many members of the Senate that this drastic measure is necessary, beneficial, or a "free" vote. It is not a "free" vote. It would dramatically raise the price of steel for U.S. consumers, forcing layoffs in consuming industries and serving as an artificial tax on every person, regardless of income, who buys anything from a car to kitchen appliances.

"That is why I have sought to address the real problem facing the steel industry, the worldwide overcapacity of steel. This global steel glut is the result of market distorting government practices around the world. Without the elimination of these practices, many foreign steel producers will continue to be insulated from the capital market pressures that face the U.S. industry. The following proposal is designed to implement a sustained strategy for eliminating the foreign government practices that continue to support the overcapacity in steel manufacturing worldwide.

"Again, I have accepted a number of modifications to the mark to address concerns raised by members. Given that, I want to encourage the Committee to move this proposal forward without amendment."