President Bush Thursday announced his decision to lift 20-month-old tariffs on foreign steel. That's a move that could hurt steel makers in West Virginia, Ohio and other states critical in next year's election.
To soften the blow, the administration announced a beefed-up monitoring program to guard against a sudden flood of foreign steel coming into the country.
Bush says the tariffs have achieved their purpose and it's now time to lift them.
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller disagrees.
"This will do terrible, literal and psychological damage to the steel industry in West Virginia and across America," Rockefeller says. "These are people, these are human beings, and you can't treat people like that."
The action comes after major trading partners threatened their own tariffs on American goods unless the steel tariffs were rolled back. The White House wants to avoid a threatened trade war with partners who vowed to put tariffs on American goods unless the steel tariffs are removed.
West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller doesn't believe president's action is legal.
"He violates the 1974 Constitution of Trade Law, if he lifts the tariffs before the end of the three years," Rockefeller said.
Ohio congressman Ted Strickland accuses Bush of caving into international pressure. Republican Senator George Voinovich says he's disappointed, but hopes the industry can continue to stabilize.
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