The divide between Democrats and Republicans, and their stubbornness when it comes to meeting in the middle, is as wide as ever. And that was before the 2016 election happened.
So it's not often now we see a U.S. Congressman from one party celebrate the decision of a president that's on the other side of the aisle.
But that's actually what happened Tuesday, when Rick Nolan – a longtime Minnesota Democrat – offered heads of praise on Donald Trump.
Why? Because of the new president's insistence that two big pipeline projects (Dakota Access and Keystone XL) be made only using American steel if they go forward.
Trump, while signing executive orders to help move those pipelines along, said: "if we are going to build pipelines in the (U.S.), the pipes should be built in the United States. We will build our own pipes."
Nolan said he applauds the president's support for American-made steel.
“Pipelines made with low-grade, foreign government subsidized iron ore and steel illegally dumped into the U.S. marketplace are costing us thousands of good jobs, threatening our environment with leaks and spills and jeopardizing our health and safety," he said.
Nolan also said he's reintroducing his American Pipeline Jobs & Safety Act, which would require nearly all energy pipelines in the U.S. use 100 percent American steel, and iron ore that's mined, processed or reprocessed in the country.
Nolan's district could benefit
As we touched on in this earlier story, the people that live in Nolan's Congressional District – which takes up the entire northeastern corner of the state – have a lot to gain if American steel is suddenly in demand again.
Over the past few years, nearly 2,000 workers have been permanently or temporarily laid off from their jobs, and at least seven of Minnesota’s 11 major mining operations had plans to idle. Some of those jobs are on their way back.
But the steel industry is still in the midst of a crisis, with prices low due to other countries being accused of dumping foreign-made, cheap steel into the market. In Itasca County, where mining operations are a key economic drivers, the unemployment rate for December 2016 was 8.7 percent, according to state figures. (Compare that to the statewide rate of 3.9 percent.)
That cheaper steel has meant there’s less of a demand for steel made by companies here in the states. The New York Times explored the problem in-depth in this article.
In Nolan's news release, United Steelworkers Local 2660 President Cliff Tobey also said they're supportive of Trump's suggestion.