U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today applauded House passage of a bill to expand and improve the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program in defiance of a White House veto threat. H.R. 3920, the Trade and Globalization Assistance Act of 2007, extends TAA to service industry workers; improves access to training, health care, and wage insurance benefits; creates a program to address community needs; and reauthorizes TAA programs through fiscal year 2012.
The bill passed by the House today closely mirrors a bill Smith introduced on October 10, 2007. Smith was an original cosponsor of H.R. 3920 and worked closely with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) to shape it. Smith introduced similar legislation in the 108th and 109th Congresses.
H.R. 3920 passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 264 to 157.
“When our workers lose jobs because of our trade policies, we have an obligation to help them get back on their feet. The TAA program as it exists today is out of date, and this bill will modernize it to get more Americans – including service workers like software engineers and call center employees – the help they need to stay competitive in the global marketplace,” Smith said.
Video of Smith’s statement in support of the bill can be found at http://www.house.gov/adamsmith.
Congress created the TAA program in 1962 in response to the loss of jobs among hard-working Americans and to promote American competitiveness. TAA benefits have several components: training assistance, income support while in training, and interim health care support. The program assists workers dislocated due to government policies that eliminated tariffs and other barriers to trade. However, under current law, the program extends coverage only to workers in manufacturing and agricultural sectors, even though service-sector jobs also are increasingly moving overseas.
The Trade and Globalization Assistance Act of 2007:
- Extends TAA benefits to service sector employees (including IT workers, engineers, customer services employees, and others) and to more manufacturing workers.
- Doubles the current training funding cap from $220 million to $440 million for fiscal year 2008, and increases it to $660 million by 2010.
- Increases TAA’s healthcare premium subsidy from the current 65 percent to 85 percent.
- Simplifies application process by authorizing Secretary of Labor to certify groups of workers as eligible for TAA on an industry-wide basis rather than on a plant-by-plant basis as in current law.
- Provides incentives to states to improve unemployment insurance coverage for low-income, part-time, and other workers.