WASHINGTON, DC – In light of a reported deal that will link Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced stand-alone legislation to extend Trade Adjustment Assistance for five years to allow U.S. companies to remain competitive and create jobs in the face of unfair competition from foreign manufacturers.
“Trade Adjustment Assistance should move through Congress on its own merit, along with the several bipartisan trade enforcement initiatives introduced in the Senate,” Brown said. “It’s no surprise Americans are cynical over empty promises about jobs created through free trade agreements like Korea—particularly when these agreements are coupled with assistance for workers who lose their jobs to trade. If there was ever any doubt that free trade agreements cost American jobs, the Korea/TAA deal provides clarity. It’s time to put American jobs and American workers first by assisting laid-off workers and standing up to currency manipulation and other predatory trade practices.”
“In light of recent news that the Administration and Senate Leaders have struck a deal to offer an insufficient version of worker assistance legislation and link it to a costly agreement with South Korea, it is imperative that we offer another path,” Casey said. “Since 2001, Pennsylvania has lost almost 300,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector and many of those jobs have been lost because of one-way NAFTA-style trade agreements. More robust TAA help for workers should be passed before debate begins on the trade agreements. If not, Pennsylvanians will be the losers here.”
The bill would extend Trade Adjustment Assistance at 2009 levels for five years until December 31, 2016. TAA ensures that workers who lose their jobs and financial security as a result of globalization have an opportunity to transition to new jobs and emerging sectors of the economy. In 2009, Congress made important reforms to the program, improving efficiency, and improving access to the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC). Congress also expanded eligibility to service workers, and to workers whose jobs have been moved offshore, regardless of whether the United States has a bilateral trade agreement with the source country. These reforms expired February 12, 2011 and need to be renewed.
Brown led the House opposition to the Dominican Republic – Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2005, falling just two votes shy of blocking the agreement after the vote was held open for nearly two hours. The author of the book Myths of Free Trade and described as “Congress’ leading proponent of American manufacturing,” Brown also stood up to President Clinton during debate of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. Casey is the Chair of the Joint Economic Committee which announced hearings scheduled for June 22 entitled "Manufacturing in the USA: Why We Need a National Manufacturing Strategy."
Brown and Casey have worked to extend TAA for Workers and the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC), introducing legislation and seeking multiple unanimous consent agreements on the Senate floor. The Senators have pushed the Administration and Congressional leaders to address TAA before consideration of the Free Trade Agreements.