Casey Calls on Boehner to Quickly Pass TAA Bill

House Should Not Delay TAA Because of Free Trade Agreements

WASHINGTON, DCAfter the Senate yesterday passed an extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program introduced by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Casey wrote to Speaker John Boehner calling on the House to pass the extension and send it to the President before considering the pending free trade agreements.

“I understand that House leadership intends to hold off on further consideration of H.R. 2832 until the pending free trade agreements with S. Korea, Columbia and Panama have been submitted by the Administration,” said Senator Casey.  “Workers in Pennsylvania and around the country shouldn't have to wait any longer for help.  I implore you to vote on, pass and send to the President an extension of TAA before considering the free trade agreements.”

TAA was created in 1962 as a way to help workers and firms negatively impacted by trade.  TAA was most recently expanded in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to include additional workers, expanded job training and improved health care coverage.  These enhancements expired in February 2011.  The entire TAA program is due to expire in 2012.

The legislation extends the TAA program through 2013.  Because TAA enhancements were allowed to expire earlier this year, the legislation will also reauthorize the program retroactively from February 12, 2011.

Senator Casey’s amendment will:

  • Guarantee access to training for American service and manufacturing workers;
  • Allow workers to qualify if their firms shifted production to any country, including China and India, not just counties with which the U.S. has entered into a free trade agreement; and
  • Ensure that workers in industries suffering from unfair trade and import surges as a result of unfair subsidies, dumping of goods, and unexpected surges to automatically qualify to receive TAA benefits if their layoffs occurred within one year before or after an affirmative injury determination by the International Trade Commission.

The amendment provides training for up to 117 weeks, giving all workers the opportunity to receive long-term training, and provides an additional 13 weeks of training for workers if the training leads towards the completion of a degree or an industry-recognized credential.

Senator Casey has been a leader in the effort to extend TAA.  He joined with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) 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. 

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter is below:

Dear Mr. Speaker:

Yesterday the Senate passed a modified H.R. 2832, including an amendment I sponsored extending Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).  I understand that House leadership intends to hold off on further consideration of H.R. 2832 until the pending free trade agreements with S. Korea, Columbia and Panama have been submitted by the Administration.  Workers in Pennsylvania and around the country shouldn't have to wait any longer for help.  I implore you to vote on, pass and send to the President an extension of TAA before considering the free trade agreements.  

Our trade policies have taken a toll on American workers.  The manufacturing sector in of Pennsylvania is one clear example.  According to analysis by the Joint Economic Committee, from 1997-2010, manufacturing went from 16.4 percent of Pennsylvania’s gross state product to 12.1 percent.  In total Pennsylvania has lost nearly 300,000 good-paying, middle-class manufacturing jobs.

TAA is essential to workers who lose their jobs due to unfair trade practices.  Through no fault of their own these workers face total upheaval for themselves and their families.  Many of these workers have spent decades in the same field using the same skills.  TAA provides them with short-term assistance to help with this immediate crisis, as well as training so they can acquire new skills for a new job so that they can support their families. 

TAA has provided an important safety net for workers for almost fifty years.  Since May 2009, it has helped over 24,000 Pennsylvanians.  Until recently, TAA has enjoyed strong bipartisan support.  In that spirit, I urge you to bring H.R. 2832 to a vote in the House of Representatives as soon as possible and immediately send it to President Obama for his signature.  American workers need these protections, and they can’t afford a delay.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

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