Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said that he will block the nominations of Gilbert Kaplan and Nazakhtar Nikakhtar to the Commerce Department until the Trump administration imposes the tariffs meant to protect U.S. manufacturers from cheap Chinese products, The Hill reports.
“They’ve just dragged their feet and delayed and delayed. The bottom line is the president has been a total paper tiger on this issue, and as a result, we feel the need to hold up nominees for the Commerce Department.” Schumer told The New York Times.
Back in April, Trump signed executive orders directing his administration to investigate whether steel and aluminum imports from China and other countries threaten national security. However, the administration has been slow to impose the tariffs, and steel imports have climbed 20 percent since the investigations were announced.
“This has been a bit of a letdown in the industrial heartland. A lot of our members supported the president because of what he said about steel and manufacturing.” United Steelworkers International president Leo Gerard said in an August interview.
Kaplan has been nominated for the top international trade post at the Commerce Department, while Nikakhtar is Trump’s pick for assistant secretary of Commerce, The Hill adds. Even with Schumer’s blockade the two nominees can still be approved, but would force the Senate to take part in a time-consuming cloture vote, The Hill notes.