WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today went to the Senate floor to ask his colleagues to unanimously pass an extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and the Health Care Tax Credit (HCTC). TAA is a package of training and reemployment services designed to help workers—who have lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade—develop the skills they need to find new jobs. The HCTC helps trade-affected workers afford private health insurance.
“Our actions bring consequences, and so does our inaction. By this weekend, if we fail to act, workers who are retraining for new jobs will be left without resources. Washington politicians are willing to allow TAA and the HCTC to expire. They will expire at the expense of Americans who worked hard and played by the rules, yet lost their jobs, most of their pensions, their health care – or all three. These are programs that help tens of thousands of Americans either get back to work or regain some measure of the financial security that has been stripped from them due to unfair foreign trade.”
“The combination of TAA and HCTC is a winner for business, for workers, and for our economy. These programs are no replacements for good-paying, secure jobs. But they help workers to acquire new skills and businesses to compete, and they are keys to our nation’s economic recovery and to our competitiveness,” Brown continued.
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) objected to three requests from Brown and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) to extend TAA and HCTC.
According to the Department of Labor, an estimated 32,389 Ohio workers have been certified for TAA assistance since May 2009—second only to Michigan. Of those workers, an estimated 7,119 workers would not have qualified for TAA under a pre-Recovery Act version of TAA. The pre-Recovery Act version of TAA did not cover service workers or workers that lost jobs due to trade with countries with which the United States does not have a free trade agreement, including China.
Last week, Brown led a group of 14 senators on a letter to members of House leadership, including House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, urging them to pass an extension of TAA in the House. As one of the last acts before 111th Congress adjourned, Brown secured a six-week extension of the TAA program, in addition to the Health Care Tax Credit (HCTC). Brown fought to extend the program for 18 months, but the Senate only cleared a six-week extension, leaving it up to the new Congress to reconsider the issue.