WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a vote to give President Obama trade promotion authority to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other trade deals, and a vote to extend the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program and level the playing field for U.S. companies by giving them new tools to fight against unfair trade practices, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown issued the following statement:
“It’s disappointing that my colleagues voted to fast track the largest trade deal ever without demanding that our trading partners follow the same rules that we do. I’m encouraged that we acted to extend TAA and pass the Leveling the Playing Field Act to address anticompetitive practices like dumping. But as TPP is negotiated, we must do more to prevent a race to the bottom that gives handouts to corporations while selling out American workers.
“Today’s vote to extend Trade Adjustment Assistance is good news for workers who could be impacted by the TPP and other trade deals down the road. The loss of a job can be devastating. Through TAA, we can give displaced workers the opportunity to train for new, high-demand careers and get back to work so they can provide for their families.
“The TAA bill also includes my legislation to restore strength to important laws that help U.S. companies fight back against unfair trade practices like dumping. This is key to making sure our workers – including Ohio’s steel workers – can compete in a fair marketplace.”
The Leveling the Playing Field Act, which Brown introduced in March, would restore strength to antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) statutes that allow businesses and workers in the United States to petition the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission (ITC) when foreign producers sell goods in the U.S. below market price or receive illegal subsidies. This would benefit Ohio companies including: Picoma Industries in Cambridge, Sharon Tube in Niles, Wheatland Tube in Warren, and Vallourec Star in Youngstown.
Brown has long been an advocate for the TAA program and has fought to ensure that workers have the training and tools they need to fill jobs in high-growth industries. TAA is set to expire in September 2015. This bill will extend the program through 2020 and fund it annually at $450 million.
During the Senate’s consideration of TAA last month, Brown worked offered an amendment that would have funded the program at its previous annual level of $575 million. During the Senate Finance Committee’s April markup of the legislation, Brown filed an amendment to this effect, as well as other amendments to make more workers, including service sector workers and those who have lost their jobs to countries with which the U.S. does not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) – such as China – eligible for TAA benefits. He also filed an amendment to further expand TAA eligibility to include public sector workers, in effect making all workers eligible for TAA.
In February, Brown introduced the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act to extend and improve TAA for displaced workers. Between 2009 and 2014, TAA provided retraining assistance to more than 20,000 Ohio workers who lost their jobs to foreign trade.
In November 2014, Brown successfully led a group of 14 senators in calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to maintain funding for the TAA program so workers could continue to receive benefits through September 2015. In February 2011, Brown led 13 senators in urging House leadership to extend TAA. As one of the last acts before the 111th Congress adjourned, Brown secured a six-week extension of the TAA program, in addition to the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC).
Administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), TAA is a federal program that identifies workers who have lost their jobs or seen hours or wages reduced as a result of increased imports and helps them prepare for new careers. The program extends benefits including training for employment in another job or career, income support, job search allowances, and relocation allowances. Qualified workers may quickly return to work through a combination of these services. DOL estimates that since 1975, two million workers nationwide have relied on TAA to make ends meet and receive training necessary to find a new job. Brown released a county-by-county list of Ohio companies affected by foreign trade whose workers used TAA benefits to help train for new jobs.