Floor Statement on H.R. 2832

Sep 7, 2011

“I rise in support of H.R. 2832.  Unfortunately, today we are acting to rectify only one wrong in the Republican agenda of disregard for workers and economic recovery.

“The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) – that we extend today for 22 months – should never have been permitted to lapse at the beginning of the year.

“The Andean Trade Preferences Program should also not stand expired

“And, importantly, it is in excusable that the Trade Adjustment Assistance, that we improved on a bi-partisan basis in 2009, has stood expired since February.

“The only reason we are considering this legislation today is because House Republicans have been unwilling to support a simple extension of the expanded TAA program. They are unwilling to support a program targeted at helping unemployed Americans get back to work. This at a time when more Americans have remained jobless for a longer period than ever recorded in our nation’s history.  

“In FY2010 alone, more than 227,000 workers took advantage of TAA, receiving assistance such as case management, training and income support.  And there is broad support for the program:

“A letter circulated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Round Table in May 2011 states that “TAA is as vitally important today as it has been over the years.  It helps American businesses get into exporting and is designed to give displaced workers the new skills and resources they need to re-enter the 21st century job market.  Accordingly, . . ., we urge Congress and the Administration to find a way forward to ensure that the United States has in place an effective TAA program to support U.S. global economic engagement….”

“I support the GSP program and the legislation before us today.  

“The GSP program is an important tool in U.S. trade policy.  It is a means by which the United States can help developing countries to capture the opportunities and meet the challenges of trade and globalization.

“129 developing countries participate in GSP – and depend on it to spur economic growth.  This includes some of the poorest countries in the world.  Moreover, GSP benefits Americans.  In fact, the majority of U.S. imports under GSP (approximately 65-75%) are inputs used to support U.S. manufacturing, including raw materials, parts and components, and machinery and equipment.

“This program is important enough that it should not have been allowed to lapse and can now be considered on its own merits.  It appears that the prospect is that the Senate will act on GSP by adding TAA.  If that is the path for renewal of TAA, the Republicans have an obligation to ensure that it happens immediately as a primary action.

“The Republicans like to talk about a languishing trade agenda.  What is languishing is action on trade items ready for action – GSP, TAA, Andean – languishing at the hands of the Republicans while action has been underway to address the shortcomings of the Bush Trade Agreements.

“I am confident that each of the Free Trade Agreements can be considered on their own merits.  Other programs, especially those vital to workers transition during this difficult economy, should never have been held hostage.”