Inside the House: Trade Adjustment Assistance

Tomorrow in the House, debate will kick off on the extension of the expiring Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) – both measures are set to expire this Saturday, February 12th. The ATPA lowers duties on imports from Andean countries and has been seen as an economic positive. The vote will be considered under suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds vote.

Trade Adjustment Assistance provides substantial government benefits to American workers who lose their jobs because of foreign trade and the 2009 stimulus bill expanded TAA coverage and increased TAA benefits. However, very few workers lose their jobs because of foreign trade and the Department of Labor’s Dislocated Workers Program already provides basic services to laid-off workers. There is little statistical support for the notion that TAA boosts the earnings of participants.

Senate Democrats have said they would not vote for the ATP extension without TAA included, but conservatives should not allow this hand wrangling to take place. Congress should allow TAA to expire, period! Conservatives should watch this issue closely. Tomorrow night’s vote will be a good indication of where things stand in the House.

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