ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — President Barack Obama’s top adviser is heading to Minnesota’s Iron Range as it struggles through an economic downturn.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has a visit to Virginia planned for Dec. 22. Top political leaders previously requested a meeting with Obama himself to discuss the global slump in the steel industry and its impact on workers.

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A tide of mine closures has swept across northeastern Minnesota as steel exports flood American shores. Roughly 2,000 Minnesota steelworkers have lost their jobs this year. Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers are considering a special session to extend unemployment benefits for some of those workers.

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Dayton said in a Tuesday statement that the state’s iron ore industry needs help from the Obama administration.

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