Rep. Steve Russell looks at impact of steel and aluminum tariffs on Oklahoma industries

Rep. Steve Russell tours the Anheuser-Busch Metal Container Corporation (MCC) Lid Plant in Oklahoma City. (Caroline Vandergriff/KOKH)

Congressman Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma, is looking into the impact of steel and aluminum tariffs on Oklahoma industries.

He visited the Anheuser-Busch Metal Container Corporation (MCC) Lid Plant in Oklahoma City Friday afternoon to listen to employees' concerns and tour the facility.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced new tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, effective June 1. The Oklahoma City plant goes through 380,000 pounds of aluminum a day, and the majority of it comes from Canada.

"The problem becomes, we don’t have anywhere to go," said Timothy Popp, vice president of sales and strategy for MCC. "There’s not an alternative to steer us to to support a domestic aluminum industry. So really the tariff becomes a tax."

A recent report found the aluminum tariff would cost American brewers $347 million and could result in the loss of 20,000 American jobs. Popp also said the tariff makes it unlikely the Oklahoma City plant is willing to invest in expansion or hire more people.

"It's an impact on our business," he said.

Rep. Russell believes the United States has to protect its core industries with tariffs.

"Now those that don’t have our interests at heart and don’t want it to be fair, I think it’s right to push back and that’s what we see going on somewhat with the steel industry," said Russell. "Less so with the aluminum industry."

Since America has a mutually beneficial relationship with Canada, he thinks they can work out some of their current trade issues.

"We need to make sure we don’t become part of the economic problem," the congressman said. "We need to be part of the solution."

Popp says Anheuser-Bush is supportive of the Trump administration's goal to increase U.S. manufacturing, but worried about the unintended consequences of the tariffs.

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