Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, Doug Jones, D-Alabama, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, sent a letter Nov. 8 to Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Assistant Secretary for Export Administration Richard Ashooh to express serious concern regarding the Department’s Office of Inspector General’s findings that a lack of transparency has contributed to the “appearance of improper influence” in decision-making for Section 232 tariff exclusion.

The Commerce Department exclusion process for the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum continues to burden American businesses. The tariffs on steel and aluminum were the result of a section 232 investigation that examined whether these imports were a threat to U.S. national security. Additionally, the senators requested a briefing and written response outlining specific actions the department plans to take to implement the OIG’s recommendations.

“We write to express our serious concern regarding the Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General’s findings that a lack of transparency has contributed to the “appearance of improper influence” in decision-making for Section 232 tariff exclusion requests,” wrote the senators. “We have long been concerned about the lack of transparency and consistency in the Department of Commerce’s Section 232 tariff exclusion process. As we wrote in our Nov. 26, 2018 letter to the Government Accountability Office requesting a review of the Department’s process, ‘Members of Congress and U.S. businesses have repeatedly raised concerns about the pace, transparency, and fairness of the section 232 steel and aluminum exclusion process.’ The OIG’s findings released on Oct. 28, 2019 confirms that these concerns are well-founded.”

“Given the serious implications of the OIG’s findings for the credibility of the Department of Commerce’s tariff exclusion review process and the significant impact of exclusion decisions on the economy of our states, we respectfully request a briefing and written response by Nov. 22, 2019,” wrote the senators.

The full text of the letter is available at bit.ly/36Mf8bM.