January 28,2010

Grassley Urges President to Act on Trade Expansion, Training Pledges in State of the Union Speech

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley today urged the President to make good on his State of the Union pledges by advancing pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea and funding a retraining program to help workers displaced by trade.

“In his speech, the President said exports are important to job creation, and education is necessary for U.S. workers to compete worldwide,” Grassley said. “I agree with those words. Now I’m looking for action. There are two immediate ways to advance these goals. One is for the President to send Congress implementing legislation for the three pending trade agreements that have been ready to go for years. The other is to fund a training program that will help workers get the skills they need for good jobs in the United States.”

Grassley said he wants to see funding for the Community College and Career Training Grant Program, which he drafted as part of the Trade and Globalization Adjustment Assistance Act that was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. These grants are meant to help community colleges tailor programs to retrain workers displaced by trade to better meet the specific needs of employers in their communities. The program was authorized at $40 million per year, but the Democratic-led Congress has yet to fund it. The President’s proposed budget this year will be his first opportunity to decide whether to recommend funding, Grassley said.

Grassley is ranking member and former chairman of the Committee on Finance, with jurisdiction over international trade. The text of Grassley’s letter to the President today follows here.