Senate GOP Blocks Help for Manufacturers That Create Jobs; Assistance for Americans Who Lost Jobs to Foreign Trade

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today attempted to pass an extension of enhancements to the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program and additional trade programs.  The senators attempted to pass an extension of enhancements to TAA and the Andean Trade Pact through June 30, 2012.  Republicans objected to the first request.  Next, they attempted a shorter extension through June 30, 2011.  Republicans objected to the second request.  After that was blocked, a separate measure to extend health care assistance for workers who lost their jobs because of foreign trade was also blocked. 

In the 111th Congress, Senators Casey and Brown secured a short-term extension of TAA and the Andean Trade Pact that expires February 12, 2011. 

“We heard objection after objection to the extension of a program which is fully paid-for and that will help the economy and workers who are suffering from horrific economic circumstances,” said Senator Casey.  “We know that Trade Adjustment Assistance works; it provides job training to help move people from unemployment to employment.  67,000 workers in Pennsylvania who lost their jobs because of foreign trade took advantage of the enhancements to the TAA program that were added in 2009.  These benefits are set to expire on Saturday when the extension we secured last year expires.”

“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,” said Senator Brown. “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.”

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 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.