WCOE Legislative Burst for April 2018

Steel and Aluminum Tariff Update

Many WCOE members are concerned about the effect the Administration-imposed 25 percent tariff on steel imports and the 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, effective March 23, will have on their businesses. Imports from Canada and Mexico were quickly exempted from the tariffs on both products. Ultimately, after threatening to go to the World Bank or impose retaliatory tariffs, Australia, Brazil, South Korea, and the EU will also be exempted. However, it remains to be seen what the impact of the tariff will be on WCOE members.

The Administration has clearly heard business concerns about the tariffs. The Department of Commerce has now published its exclusion process procedures for parties seeking product-specific exclusions from the tariffs. In a press release, the Administration said, “These procedures will allow the Administration to further hone these tariffs to ensure they protect our national security while also minimizing undue impact on downstream American industries,” said Secretary Ross. “Starting tomorrow, domestic industry will be able to apply for exclusions through a fair and transparent process run through Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.”

The department will evaluate exclusion requests, taking into account national security considerations and will consider whether a product is produced in the United States of a satisfactory quality or in a sufficient and reasonably available amount. A single response to each exclusion request will be posted on regulations.gov.

Copies of the forms and additional information on the exclusion process will be available at bis.doc.gov/index.php/232-steel and bis.doc.gov/index.php/232-aluminum.

Billions in Construction Spending in Omnibus

On March 23, President Trump signed the $1.3 trillion 2018 spending bill that averted a government shutdown and added spending for infrastructure. The legislation passed after hard negotiating between the parties and the Senate and the House. After the House passed the bill by a 256–167 vote, the Senate followed suit on a 65–32 vote.

While nowhere close to the $1 trillion initially proposed for infrastructure spending by the President, it does add $10 billion in additional funds to the $11 billion agreed to in the bipartisan budget bill. While much of it focuses on roads and bridges, it also includes money for mass transit, airports, ports, flood control, drinking water and waste water facilities, military construction, low income housing construction and more. 

WCOE will continue to advocate for more infrastructure spending.

The Midterm Elections


California:  The Public Policy Institute of California went into the field again with a major statewide survey (3/4–13; 1,706 CA adults) to test residents’ attitudes about issues and candidates.  Looking at their new US Senate data, it is clear that the state is again headed for a double-Democratic general election.  According to the jungle primary question, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) leads state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D–Los Angeles) by a 42–16% margin with no prominent Republican candidate on the ballot. 

Mississippi:  Gov. Phil Bryant (R) announced that he will appoint Agriculture & Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) to replace retiring Sen. Thad Cochran (R) before the veteran incumbent actually leaves office.  With state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R–Ellisville) already declaring that he will become a candidate in the special election and not continue with his plan to challenge Sen. Roger Wicker in the Republican primary, Gov. Bryant says he wants the new Senator to have as much time as possible to begin preparing a campaign.  Sen. Cochran says he will resign after the appropriations process is completed on or around April 1st.

Upon Ms. Hyde-Smith being sworn in at some point in April, will then run for the seat in November.  All candidates will be placed on the November ballot with the top two advancing to a November 27th run-off election if no candidate receives majority support.  The winner then serves the balance of the term, meaning he or she will be eligible to run for a full six-year term in 2020.  Already, state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R–Ellisville) has announced for the special election.  He came close to upsetting Sen. Cochran in the 2014 Republican primary. Former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi US Congressman Mike Espy declared his candidacy on the Democratic side.

Montana: We now see a slate of official Republican Senate candidates in the Montana race hoping to oppose two-term incumbent Jon Tester (D), as the candidate filing period drew to a close. As expected, state Auditor Matt Rosendale, former District Judge Russell Fagg, state Sen. Al Olszewski (R–Flathead Valley), and businessman Troy Downing all submitted the candidate declaration documents. The June 5th Republican primary winner will face Sen. Tester who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Sen. Tester is favored for re-election and just began his preliminary media advertising blitz last week.

Nevada: Sen. Dean Heller (R) now faces only minor opposition for the upcoming June 12th Republican primary. Businessman and frequent political candidate Danny Tarkanian, adhering to a public request from President Trump to exit the race, did so. Instead, Mr. Tarkanian will enter the open 3rd Congressional District campaign. Back in 2016, he lost that race 47–46% against now-freshman Representative and current US Senate candidate Jacky Rosen (D–Henderson). Bypassing a seriously contested primary will now allow Sen. Heller to pool his resources and immediately concentrate on his general election campaign with Ms. Rosen. A Heller–Rosen general election contest is rated as a toss-up in what is proving to be a swing political state.

Ohio: Ohio-based Baldwin Wallace University released a poll of the upcoming Senate race (2/28–3/9; 1,011 OH registered voters), and they project Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) holding a 41–29% lead over Rep. Jim Renacci (R–Wadsworth). If venture capitalist Mike Gibbons were the Republican nominee, Sen. Brown’s margin would be 41–31%.

The sampling period is long meaning the poll’s reliability factor is lessened, though the respondent universe size is strong. Additionally, the decided factor is a bit low considering that Sen. Brown is a two-term incumbent, which means more reliability questions. Rep. Renacci is favored to win the Republican nomination, and the general election figures to become highly competitive.

West Virginia: Countering Rep. Evan Jenkins’ (R–Huntington) polling release that showed him leading the Republican primary race for the right to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D), Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) just went public with his own internal poll that shows very different results. According to his Osage Research survey (3/13; 500 WV likely Republican primary voters), it is Mr. Morrisey who has climbed into first place, leading former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and Rep. Jenkins, 24–23–17%. At the beginning of last week, Mr. Jenkins released his Harper Polling survey that found him leading with 29% support versus 27 for Mr. Blankenship, and 19% for Attorney General Morrisey. The Republican primary is May 8th and expects to become a testy affair.


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