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Pioneer Editorial: Push for U.S. steel is easy to embrace

When it comes to supporting Northeastern Minnesota mining, and assuring its future, some of our elected leaders are doing what many may have come to believe was the impossible -- or, at least, the very difficult. They're agreeing and standing tog...

When it comes to supporting Northeastern Minnesota mining, and assuring its future, some of our elected leaders are doing what many may have come to believe was the impossible -- or, at least, the very difficult. They're agreeing and standing together, despite their party-affiliated political chasms.

Specifically, a Republican and two Democrats sent from Minnesota to Washington, D.C., as well as DFLers sent from the Iron Range to St. Paul, all are finding themselves working toward a common goal in the opening weeks of 2012. They're all taking steps to make sure that American-made steel is the steel that gets used in federal and state transportation, public-works, bonding and other projects that receive public funding, as well as in the production of metal-armor plates for our military.

U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack's office announced this month he successfully closed loopholes in provisions requiring the use of American-made steel in federal transportation construction projects. His efforts, his office said in a release, would "create U.S. jobs, increase U.S. steel production, and ensure that more American steel products are used in federal transportation construction projects under an amendment titled 'Buy America.'"

"Minnesota won World War II because we had steel in our back yard," Cravaack said on the House floor. "I'm a free-market guy. I believe in the free market. I truly do. But when you have subsidized steel coming out of Brazil and you have subsidized steel coming out of China, that's not a level playing field."

Cravaack secured provisions not only to level that playing field but in the name of national security.

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Also in Washington, the offices of U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, both Democrats from Minnesota, announced ... they and four others introduced legislation "that would protect American jobs -- including jobs on Minnesota's Iron Range -- and American national security by ensuring that armor plate for America's military is made of genuine, American-made steel," as Franken's office put it in its release. That had been the requirement and expectation for 35 years, until the Department of Defense overturned the rule in 2009. The rule's return can be welcomed from the Iron Range to the deserts of Afghanistan.

Closer to home, in St. Paul, Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, and Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, have introduced companion bills requiring the use of American steel -- and American steel only -- in Minnesota public works projects, bonding projects and other projects that receive public funding.

"The Range delegation is behind the bill. No one has been a bigger proponent of 'buy American' than Rep. (Tom) Rukavina," Melin said. "I am glad to see that Cravaack supports buy-American provisions. ... This is public money. We are the consumers, and if we have the right to choose where our money is spent I choose the USA, not China or India. I think most taxpayers would agree."

Most in ore-rich Northland certainly would -- no matter which side of the aisle they support.

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