Trade Adjustment Assistance Legislation Introduced in House and Senate
Congressional lawmakers introduced legislation on February 25 to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”), the federal program that provides aid to workers who suffer the negative effects of increased imports. The program, currently due to expire at the end of 2015, confers benefits such as training for a new career, income support, and allowances for job search and relocation. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill would extend the program until the year 2020.
The TAA renewal bill in the Senate was sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Workers at the International Automotive Components plant located in Sen. Brown’s Canton district have been beneficiaries of the Trade Adjustment program since the company shifted to foreign production. In a press release, Sen. Brown stated, “The loss of a job can be a devastating experience…These resources will help ensure that displaced workers in Canton receive the financial support and training opportunities needed for a fresh start.”
On the House side, Rep. Adam Smith’s (D-WA) sponsorship of the bill was joined by lead Democrats on the House Committee on Ways and Means, specifically Full Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Charles Rangel (D-NY). In a separate press release released jointly by Rep. Smith, Ranking Member Levin, and Sen. Brown, the Members reiterated their “commitment to displaced workers and the value of the TAA program” and called for a renewal that would not be “held up by other trade debates.”
Senate Delays Hearing on Trade Promotion Authority Legislation; House Republican Freshmen Urge Swift Action
Committee leadership in the House and Senate – namely Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) – are engaged in negotiations to finalize a bill to introduce Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) for a vote. TPA allows Congress to set its negotiating objectives for trade agreements, grants negotiating authority to the President, and ensures that negotiated trade agreements would receive an up-or-down vote on the floor.
On February 26, the Senate Committee on Finance was scheduled to hold a hearing entitled “Congress and U.S. Tariff Policy,” anticipated to include discussion on the expected Trade Promotion Authority bill. The Committee postponed the hearing until further notice. A TPA deal has also yet to be finalized.
In separate but related efforts, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) and Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) spearheaded efforts on a letter from twenty-four freshmen and incumbent House Republicans in support of trade and the passage of TPA. In the letter to the President, the Members called for “swift action early this year” and pledged their commitment “to working with you to pass bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority to set the stage for concluding the best possible deal in each of our ongoing trade negotiations.”