Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) today applauded the inclusion of legislation to expand and improve the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program in the Economic Recovery Package. The measure will extend TAA to service industry workers, increase funding for and improve access to training, health care, and income support, and create a program to address community-wide needs.

Smith worked closely with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Senator Max Baucus during the last session of Congress in his efforts to expand TAA and other job training programs.  Congressman Smith introduced similar legislation to enhance TAA in the 108th, 109th and 110th Congresses.

“Improving the TAA program is more important now then ever before,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “The current economic crisis is accelerating the displacement of workers and we must help them adjust and refine their skill sets to advance their careers in this fluid and unpredictable job market.  While we cannot walk away from globalization, we must help provide a bridge between jobs - through training, support and healthcare - to help individuals transition to the jobs and career paths of the future.”

Congress created the TAA program in 1962 in response to the loss of jobs among hard-working Americans and to promote American competitiveness in the global economy.  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 Expansion of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program: 
Extends TAA to trade-affected service-sector workers and workers affected by offshoring or outsourcing to all countries, including China or India; 
Increases training funds available to states by 160 percent to $575 million per fiscal year;
Establishes a new TAA program for trade-affected communities;
Ensures automatic TAA eligibility for workers suffering from import surges and unfair trade;
Makes training, healthcare and reemployment TAA benefits more accessible and flexible, and improves the TAA for Firms and TAA for Farmers programs;  
Reauthorizes all TAA programs (which expired December 31, 2007) through December 31, 2010.

“Due to globalization our economy is rapidly transforming, and so must our policies to help displaced workers,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Service-sector employees are also adversely affected by the changing economy and increasingly by the recent economic downturn. We must do everything we can to help them and all other displaced workers transition into the growing sectors of our economy.”

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