BARRETT: I Ran Against Haley. Then I Endorsed Her. Now It’s Time To Unite The GOP

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Now that former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has suspended her presidential campaign, it’s time for the Republican Party and the nation to come together.

When I ran against her for South Carolina governor in 2010, she wasn’t considered a strong contender at first, but she ended up beating me and all the other candidates. After that 2010 primary, we all came together to propel her to victory. Now is the time for us to do so again. If we want to beat Joe Biden, the Republican Party must stand united and fight for the forgotten men and women of America.

To beat Joe Biden this November, the Republican party must build a broad coalition that includes American manufacturing workers. In my home state, the job market is growing rapidly at a rate of 142.35 percent, making it the fastest-growing job market in the United States, and the aluminum industry is a significant contributor to this growth.

In 2015, the aluminum industry in the United States was on the brink of collapse due to an over-supply of aluminum from China, Russia, the Middle East and other foreign countries that cheat. The whole U.S. aluminum domestic industry was set to shut down, and plant closures would have had a devastating impact on families across America. The U.S. government acted quickly to impose the Section 232 aluminum tariffs, which placed a 10 percent tariff on all foreign aluminum imports to save thousands of American aluminum jobs.

The bottom line is that the Republican Party must fight to return more American manufacturing jobs to the United States and lessen our dependence on foreign countries. Introduced by the prior administration, the Section 232 national security law protects American aluminum jobs and domestic producers from unfair trade practices, as well as promoting self-sufficiency in a sector where the U.S. had previously relied on foreign nations.

In my home state, one can see the benefits of the Section 232 program right here in our own backyard. Century Aluminum Mt. Holly located in the Lowcountry is now home to America’s newest and most efficient aluminum smelter, which contributes $700 million of annual economic growth and has created over 450 good-paying aluminum jobs. The aluminum produced at this plant is a crucial input for military applications as the United States strives to protect Americans both at home and abroad.

Dependence on foreign manufacturing for critical materials, in any capacity, weakens America’s influence and credibility. How can we expect to hold our ground in any foreign conflicts if we are dependent on China, Russia and other foreign countries for critical materials needed by the U.S. military, such as aluminum?

Under the Trump administration and since the implementation of the Section 232 program, the production of aluminum in America grew by 60 percent. This growth has led to the creation of new high-wage job opportunities across our nation. Because of the Section 232 aluminum tariffs, the Century Mt Holly plant was able to invest over $90 million to increase its production by 50 percent in recent years, which has led to a rise in the overall production capacity of the facility. This in turn resulted in the creation of hundreds of new good-paying aluminum manufacturing jobs that will strengthen domestic supply chains.

The Republican Party has always stood strong against countries that seek to do America harm. Let me be clear, we must double down on Russian sanctions relating to the conflict in Ukraine. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and resulting spike in energy prices, America has lost two more smelters on Joe Biden’s watch. A Republican president would never have allowed this to happen. 

At the same time, state-owned Russian aluminum producers provide military and financial backing to Russia’s brutal assault against the people of Ukraine. According to media reports, some of Russia’s largest aluminum producers recruit soldiers to fight in Ukraine and fund their military salaries, in support of Putin’s war crimes. Because of Biden’s weak leadership, two more U.S. smelters have shut down and he is failing to fight for our great American workers. More sanctions are needed against Russian state-owned aluminum producers to stop the war of aggression. 

The voters have spoken, now is the time for the Republican Party to unite so we can defeat Joe Biden. Let’s stand strong against countries that seek to do America harm, put American manufacturing first and fight for millions of American workers so Republicans can take back the White House this November. 

Congressman Gresham Barrett represented South Carolina’s 3rd congressional district from 2003-2011.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.