WASHINGTON, DC-U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today introduced the Omnibus Trade Act of 2011 to extend the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program and additional trade programs through June 30, 2012. This new version of legislation the senators pushed last year includes a fix to a provision that held up its passage at the end of the 111th Congress. Senators Casey and Brown secured a short-term extension that expires February 12, 2011.
“Since 2001, Pennsylvania has lost over 200,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector,” said Senator Casey. “The Trade Adjustment Assistance Program has played a vital role in helping those workers who have lost their job due to an increase in imports or a shift in production outside the United States. If we truly want to help America get out of the ditch, then we must ensure our workers have the proper tools to be able to find new employment. If we allow TAA to lapse, the effects of these layoffs will be far greater than they are today.”
“The numbers don’t lie: more than 32,000 trade-affected Ohio workers have qualified for Trade Adjustment Assistance since May 2009. These are men and women who have relied on TAA to learn new skills and get retrained for 21st-century jobs,” Brown said. “If Congress fails to step in, the TAA program in its entirety will expire on Saturday. I’ve seen first-hand how TAA can help Ohioans get back on their feet, which is why I am urging Congress to pass a long-term extension of this vital program this week.”
Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives last year with bipartisan support and was supported by the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation among other organizations. The legislation—which is fully paid-for—reduces import duties on small inputs and components that are not made in the United States, which means lower costs for U.S. manufactures to make their products in the United States. It also renews for 18 months trade preferences programs that provide assistance to developing countries and also help American businesses and workers.
The legislation today includes a fix to a provision previously opposed by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) that affected sleeping bag manufacturers in Alabama.
The Omnibus Trade Act also continues essential updates to Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC). TAA provides critical services to American workers who have been displaced from their jobs as a result of international trade.
The HCTC helps trade-affected workers and retirees purchase private health coverage to replace the employer-sponsored coverage they lost.