U.S. Reps. Sander Levin (D-MI) and Adam Smith (D-WA) and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have introduced legislation to extend through 2020 the Trade Adjustment Assistance program – which expires at the end of 2015 – and renew a vital 2009-2010 expansion of the program to provide assistance for thousands of service industry workers affected by trade, as well as for workers losing their jobs due to trade with countries with which the United States does not have a free trade agreement, such as China. The bill would also extend the TAA for Firms program, which helps businesses adversely affected by trade regain their competitiveness. A fact sheet on The Trade Adjustment Assistance Act of 2015 is available here.
Trade Adjustment Assistance provides necessary assistance for workers who have lost their job due to trade. The Department of Labor estimates that since 1975 more than two million workers have relied on the TAA program to receive benefits to make ends meet and the training necessary to find new employment. Congress included a short-term TAA extension in the omnibus bill last year, but the statutory authority for the program expires entirely at the end of this fiscal year.
“The extension of the basic TAA program at the end of the year while welcome did not address several key improvements that are vital to assisting an expanded group of trade impacted workers,” Reps. Levin and Smith, and Sen. Brown said. “For example, service workers and workers who lose their jobs due to trade with non-FTA, non-preference program countries like China are not currently eligible for TAA. Our bill restores benefits to these workers while also providing much needed technical assistance so firms can remain competitive. Our commitment to displaced workers and the value of the TAA program stands on its own merits and should not be held up by other trade debates.”