President Donald Trump on Friday announced he would slash $200 million from the steel industry’s contract with the Department of Commerce, a move that is likely to boost the industry’s reputation in the wake of its role in the Flint water crisis.
“This is a slap in the face to all of us who have been working hard to get America moving again,” Trump said in a statement announcing the move, according to The Washington Post.
“Our nation’s steel industry has been hurt by the politics of division.
The decision by the Trump administration will not help the steelworkers, steelmakers, or American consumers.”
“The steel industry will now be able to focus on doing the right thing for America again,” he added.
The Department of Justice, which has been criticized for not investigating Flint, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump’s announcement came a day after he met with steelworkers at a steel plant in Pittsburgh.
“I’ve been working for years to make sure the steel sector gets back to doing what it was supposed to do for the American people,” Trump told the crowd.
The announcement comes as the U.S. has been on the front lines of a battle over whether to invest in the sector or let it collapse into bankruptcy.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced it was withdrawing its pending lawsuit against the Trump Administration.
The department said in April that the company’s contract for the production of 1,400 steel sheets that were used in the production and transportation of the Flint River water system had been “unjustly terminated” and was “unfair to the American taxpayer.”
The company has argued that it was entitled to $400 million in government aid because of its work in Flint.
“We’ve been fighting for decades to protect American jobs, and the president has finally decided that the time has come to act,” said Kevin Kelley, executive director of the National Steelworkers Union, in a video announcing the new administration’s decision.
“The fact that this is being done now, it’s a victory for steelworkers and for all Americans,” Kelley said.
The company was awarded the contract for 1,200 sheets, which are used to make steel pipes and other structural components.