May 04,2004

Baucus Disappointed by Vote Against Trade Adjustment Assistance for Service Workers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) As one of the main sponsors of an amendment to provide Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to service workers, U.S. Senator Max Baucus expressed extreme disappointment that the Senate failed to vote to include the amendment within the Jumpstart Our Business Strength Bill (JOBS) being debated on the Senate floor.

A Budget Point of Order was raised against the Wyden-Coleman-Baucus TAA amendment and failed to be waived by a vote of 54-45, thus preventing the amendment to be brought to a vote.

"The Trade Adjustment Assistance program has provided solid benefits to our manufacturing workers who have lost their jobs and it's only right to extend these benefits to our service workers as well," Baucus said. "We've recently seen a large shift in the types of jobs that are being lost due to trade and the service sector is being hit particularly hard - we've lost approximately 500,000 service jobs in recent years.

"I am very frustrated that our amendment was not included in the JOBS bill and that service workers aren't closer to getting the assistance they need. I am particularly disappointed because this amendment would have provided much-needed assistance in my homestate of Montana -- especially for the more than 500 call center workers in Kalispell, Montana who recently saw their jobs move offshore. It would also have given the Kalispell community assistance to develop a new job base. But there's no doubt I'll keep up the fight – both for this legislation, and for workers in Montana."

The TAA program, which began in 1962 and was most recently expanded under the Trade Act of 2002, provides unemployment compensation and job training for workers who have lost their jobs due to international trade. Benefits such as wage insurance and health insurance tax credits were added to the program in 2002.

Under the TAA Amendment, unemployed service workers would have become eligible for all TAA benefits that the manufacturing sector is currently eligible for. In addition, the TAA Health Insurance tax credit would have been increased from 65 to 75 percent for all workers eligible for TAA, both in the manufacturing and service sectors.

"Attaching TAA to the JOBS bill would have made perfect sense. But we still have more roads to take to help our service workers and I look forward to continuing to work with Senators Wyden and Coleman. We're in a new economy and "offshoring" has become a reality. It's onlyfair and right to provide job retraining and assistance to those in the service sector who are bearing the brunt of the offshoring phenomenon," Baucus added.