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Republicans blocking extention of Trade Adjustment program


APRIL 2011 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Republicans blocking extention of Trade Adjustment program


REGION, March 28th- The United States House of Representatives leadership abruptly pulled a trade bill off the floor on February 8th because of concerns from conservative Republicans that the legislation allowed for too much government interference in the American economy.

The legislation would have extended the expiring Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs along with specific tariff reductions. The assistance programs provide aide and training to workers who lose their jobs or see their hours or wages reduced due to increased imports. The TAA expired on February 12th.

Trade adjustment benefits have long been used as a way to build support for free trade agreements.

The TAA program was expanded as part of the 2009 economic stimulus law and the Republican leadership argued that the TAA program picks “winners and losers” by singling out workers affected by increased imports for “extra generous treatment” by the government. The Republicans called the program duplicative, overly expensive and ineffective.

While the TAA program has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, the conservative Republicans outlined several concerns with the legislation stressing that conservatives have voted to eliminate the program in the past.

The House of Representatives Republican leadership argues that recent TAA extensions have been enacted as part of an implicit agreement that stalled trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama would be advanced. Thus far, none of those agreements has won congressional approval with organized labor not supporting any of them.

Many Republicans have stated they will not advance TAA without a commitment from the Obama Administration to send the three pending trade deals to Congress for approval, not just the deal with South Korea.

“It is vital that we continue these present programs and I am working with my Republican colleagues to ensure that happens. Trade Adjustment Assistance provides critical training benefits, and tens of thousands of displaced workers will be affected if we allow this program to expire,” stated Democratic Michigan Representative Sander Levin.

It remains unclear whether the House leadership would attempt to bring the bill back to the floor in time to send it over to the United States Senate before summer recess.

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