Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called on President Biden to keep a Missouri aluminum plant open, after it was reported that its operation would be curtailed by Jan. 28.
Hawley issued a statement on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday after reports that Magnitude 7 Metals, the second-largest U.S. aluminum smelter, is going to lay off most of its staff.
“This cannot be allowed to happen,” Hawley wrote Thursday. “The plant accounts for nearly 30% of the nation’s aluminum. It’s vital to national security. President Biden must invoke the Defense Production Act and keep it open.”
Hawley referenced the Defense Production Act, a law that was invoked recently during the COVID-19 pandemic by both Biden and former President Trump. It allows the president to have emergency authority to control domestic industries. It was passed in 1950 and was modeled after the War Powers Acts, which allowed President Franklin D. Roosevelt to control the domestic economy during World War II.
In a letter from the plant’s management, workers were notified that the smelter would no longer require “most employees.”
“Due to abnormally cold weather, our operations have been severely impaired to the point where they cannot be restored while running,” Heartland News cited the plant saying.
The letter also suggested the plant will keep looking for investors in hopes of restarting the operation.
The smelter, which processes 263,000 metric tons a year, restarted its operation in mid-2018 after being bought out from bankruptcy by ARG International AG’s Matt Lucke. The plant employs 450 union workers.
“Some billionaire wants to put 500 Missourians out of work and walk away with the profit,” Hawley said. “Can’t happen. This plant and these workers are too important to the nation to shut down.”
Including Magnitude 7, the U.S. currently has five operating aluminum plants.
The Hill reached out to Lucke for comment.