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Friday, June 14, 2024

INVESTING IN AMERICA: U.S. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg Delivers Remarks at Cleveland Cliffs Steel Mill in Steelton, PA

Secretary Buttigieg speaks at the news conference in Steelton

Steelton, PA – After touring the oldest continually operating steel mill in America and meeting with union workers, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined Governor Josh Shapiro and local leaders for a news conference to highlight how American-made steel is the backbone of the American economy and will be the future of American infrastructure. 

Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, major infrastructure projects are underway across Pennsylvania and the whole country — and those project are being built with American-made steel and by American workers, including the workers the Secretary met with today. 

The full transcript of Secretary Buttigieg’s remarks are below:   

Governor. Thank you. Thank you, Governor, first of all, for the warm welcome.  

And I think you all know this, but you are fortunate in Pennsylvania to be led by a Governor who understands that the highest use of the highest office in this Commonwealth is to make everyday life better through the tools, the resources, the authorities, and the dollars that are made available, both through his leadership, in partnership with the legislators who are here, and through his partnership with President Biden, departments like mine, and this entire Administration. 

When you have state leadership, when you have a governor like Josh Shapiro, who understands the importance of infrastructure in its bearing on everyday life, everything gets better. And anything is possible. And we are so thankful to have that partner here in Pennsylvania. So, Governor, thank you for everything you do with us.  

I appreciate all the leaders who are here: state leaders, county leaders, mayors. Thank you, Steelton Mayor Ciera Dent, for welcoming us here.  

Thank you, Mayor Williams. I’m looking forward to checking out your airport in a little bit. I admire you so much because the job of mayor has only become more demanding since I proudly wore that title. Although it would have been nice back when I was mayor, if there was a trillion-dollar Infrastructure Bill going on to help me get things done. So, we got that going for you. We aim to be a wind at your back.  

I want to thank Cleveland-Cliffs for hosting us. Thank you, Clifford Smith, for welcoming us here.  

Thank you, Bill, for the great tour, and to your entire team here for the extraordinary work.  

And thank you Delisa, not just for the introduction, but, for the work and the workers you represent, the women of steel and the steel workers who make this country what it is. 

And I’m so thankful to all of the steelworkers’ leadership here for, among other things, helping us make the case to get this Infrastructure Bill done in the first place, which is now yielding these benefits for workers every day.  

President Biden has been very clear. American made steel – produced by union workers – is the backbone of our economy. And thanks to the President’s leadership, we are investing in American-made materials and American workers like never before in my lifetime.  

That’s why I’m so excited to be here. And I do take this work personally because I’m a son of the industrial Midwest. I grew up in a community still recovering from what had happened to the auto industry there a half century before I became mayor, and saw that the rebirth of American leadership and the rebirth of American industry could yield great things. 

And the historic, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that President Biden signed – got passed with the help of Pennsylvania’s federal delegation – has made a huge difference.  

I remember the first trip that I took, or one of the first trips as Secretary, was to Pittsburgh with Senator Casey to help make the case for this infrastructure package. Something previous administrations promised and tried and failed to do but has now launched our country into the midst of an infrastructure decade. 

Investing, yes, in our roads and bridges and airports. But more than that, investing in the people who make them, the people who transport these goods to the job sites, people who physically construct the infrastructure we count on.  

That’s why it matters to be in the midst of the biggest effort since the Eisenhower Administration to update our infrastructure. 

Whether it’s major upgrades to I-376 in Pittsburgh, that includes updates to 10 bridges in that area, or signals and tracks being improved between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. Whether it’s the Lehigh Valley International Airport, where I got to join the community and the Governor to celebrate the new work done there to make a better experience for air passengers. The work I’ll see later today in Harrisburg, or the work I saw earlier today in Lancaster to save lives through $12 million in a Safe Streets for All grant that’s going to help them reimagine their streetscape under the mayor’s leadership. 

All of this is going on and as it does, we’re doubling down on making sure that funding flows right back into U.S communities with American-made steel in American infrastructure projects built by American workers.  

And it couldn’t come soon enough. Because for too long, competitors, especially the Chinese government, subsidized the overproduction of steel, creating artificially low-price materials that are also made by some of the most carbon pollution intensive processes.  

The exact opposite of what I got to see with the BRI facility that we were at in Toledo not long ago. We’re not going to allow our high-quality, low-pollution steel to be undercut anymore.  

President Biden has been clear about that, and that is why he tripled the tariff rates on any steel imported from China. 

Of course, we recognize that this is a story that’s over a century in the making.  

Here where we stand, workers have been showing up for 150 years. They built the railroad expansion that knitted America together in the 19th century. They organized and secured the hard-earned wages and benefits that built a strong middle class in the 20th century – and now they are powering the infrastructure future for the 21st century and even the 22nd century that I expect my son and daughter will experience for themselves.  

We just had a great visit around the facility. I talked with, with Bill and with workers who can, at a glance from 100 yards, know the difference between a rail that’s going to Norfolk Southern, a rail that’s going to WMATA  that I’m going to wind up on the Red Line on one of these days, and one that’s going into some of those on-dock rail facilities that we’re funding at places like the Port of Long Beach or Wilmington, Delaware. We are seeing right around us what it actually looks like to make these investments.   

And what’s going on here proves that a facility that goes back almost to the Civil War can also be a center of innovation. It was the first facility in the country to exclusively produce steel, and now is at the forefront of some of the advanced methods that emit so much less carbon pollution than anything coming in from China does. This kind of innovation that would have served my hometown of South Bend well. 

This facility is showing how to write a better story and multiply the possibilities for economic growth. And as the governor said, what’s important about these sums, these dollars, these policies that are going forward isn’t how many commas or how many zeros are in them. It’s how many presents under the tree, how many cars and trucks in the driveway, how many homes owned, and children educated will be possible for families supported by the good paying jobs and the supply chains that we are strengthening right now.  

Every time somebody boards a subway, or streetcar, or rail car riding on rails built with Steelton steel, they are better off and safer because of the quality of what you do here.   

And speaking as a former Navy officer, although I did, counterterrorism as one of those Navy officers who somehow managed to never wind up on a ship, they kept sending me to landlocked places. But it means a lot to me to know what this facility does to create steel that is used in naval vessels all over the world. 

And we’re just getting warmed up. With the outset of this infrastructure decade, generating infrastructure that will give a generation of workers pride in being able to look at things from a streetcar in Santa Ana to a Brightline train in Miami to the retractable roof over the Raiders’ Stadium in Las Vegas, which I know is constructed out of that Steelton steel, and say, “I built that.” 

Your kids and your great grandkids will know that you made transportation safer, more resilient, and more reliable. 

And I’m so glad I’m here to see for myself, to tell the country and report back to the President of the United States of the extraordinary work that you do here every day.  

Thanks so much for having us. And thanks for the great work. 

Official news published at https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/investing-america-us-transportation-secretary-buttigieg-delivers-remarks-cleveland

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