In first visit to Illinois, Trump celebrates steel mill’s decision to re-hire workers

GRANITE CITY, Ill. — President Donald Trump on Thursday visited a downstate steel mill, marking his first trip to Illinois since becoming president.

Granite City Works, which sat idle for more than two years, recently made the decision to fire up two blast furnaces and re-employ hundreds of laid-off workers. U.S. Steel credited the success to Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

“After years of shutdowns and cutbacks,” Trump said Thursday, “today the blast furnace here in Granite City is blazing bright.”

A 2015 shutdown in Granite City, Ill., cost 2,000 jobs.

The U.S. has imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, including from Europe. China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico have responded with taxes on some U.S. goods.

The president used his speech to highlight good economic statistics: “We’re having the best economy we’ve ever had in the history of our country.”

Trump has taken aggressive action on trade, slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. That has prompted retaliatory action from countries that farmers and others worry will hurt their bottom lines. Commodity price erosion, in particular, is causing farmers angst. To help, Trump is proposing $12 billion in emergency aid.

“Our farmers are patriots,” Trump said, “and they’re saying that our president is doing the right thing.”

The impact of the tariffs could emerge as a key issue in midterm elections this November.

The Chicago Tribune reports Gov. Bruce Rauner will not meet with Trump during his visit.