September 22,2011

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Communications Office

Baucus Urges Renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance

Baucus Floor Statement in Support of TAA Renewal

Mr. President, this amendment addresses our country’s most urgent priority: jobs. 

It helps American workers acquire the job skills they need to compete and win in the global economy.  It gives American businesses better access to the materials they need to make their world-class products. 

But that’s just the beginning.  This amendment also opens the door to a larger trade agenda – an agenda that will increase U.S. exports, boost our economy and create jobs.  That agenda includes our pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.  But the first step is to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance.

TAA has been an essential part of U.S. trade policy for nearly 50 years.  We negotiate trade agreements because they create new economic opportunity and spur growth, but they also increase competition. 

TAA helps American workers and businesses meet that competition, with job training, income support, health coverage and technical assistance. 

Over the years, we have reformed TAA to keep pace with a changing global economy.  In 2009, we extended TAA to cover service industry workers and workers whose jobs shifted overseas to any country, and we increased funding for job training and health care.  But the 2009 reforms expired in February.

Congress has never approved one free trade agreement, much less three free trade agreements, with TAA expired.  This year must be no exception. 

The amendment before us will restore the 2009 TAA reforms with responsible program cuts to achieve necessary cost savings.  And this amendment will clear the path to consider and approve our free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. 

We cannot afford to fail.  If we fail to approve this TAA amendment, we will impose a roadblock that could derail our three free trade agreements.

At a time when weak consumer demand has stalled our economy, we need these agreements to increase sales of American farm products, manufactured goods, and services abroad.  The International Trade Commission estimates that these agreements will boost U.S. exports by $13 billion.  Most importantly, these additional exports will increase economic growth and support tens of thousands of American jobs.

We cannot afford delay.  Our exporters are already losing ground.

This summer, trade agreements between the European Union and Korea and between Canada and Colombia entered into force.  U.S. exporters are losing sales to their European and Canadian competitors.  American jobs are at risk.

So let us restore Trade Adjustment Assistance for American workers, let us extend trade preferences for the benefit of American manufacturers, and let us move quickly to consider and approve our pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. 

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.