MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough visited the Iron Range to talk about the steel crisis.
Nearly 2,000 people have been laid off at five Minnesota taconite plants.READ MORE: Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Alleging Minn. DOC Failed To Properly Prioritize Inmates For COVID Vaccines
The U.S. steel industry has suffered from a glut of foreign-made steel on the market, a strong dollar making exports harder and low fuel prices that have reduced demand for steel materials used in oil exploration.
McDonough, President Obama’s top advisor and a native of Stillwater, traveled to Virginia, Minnesota to meet with state officials and steelworkers whose employment benefits are about to run out.
Governor Mark Dayton was there along with state legislative leaders and members of Congress.
Afterwards, McDonough called the meeting “emotional.”READ MORE: Missing: Abbey Piner, Last Known To Be In St. Paul
“The president directed me here to underscore the importance that he attaches to the challenge facing not only the Range, … [but] steel-producing communities across the Great Lakes and into Pennsylvania,” McDonough said.
State officials like Democratic Congressman Rick Nolan, who represents the Iron Range, want a five-year ban on foreign steel and steel products. They also want President Obama to use the Trade Act of 1974 to impose tariffs on low cost, subsidized foreign steel.
Meanwhile, in St. Paul, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton is hoping to call a special legislative session to extend unemployment benefits for some 600 miners that are set to run out in the next few weeks.
“There’s anxiety,” Dayton said. “This fear that this isn’t coming back.”MORE NEWS: 'It's Amazing': New Minnesota Grant Helps Foster Care Youth Pay For College
Dayton says the special session will also address the state’s Real I.D. problem with air travel security.