Mr. Speaker, I join my colleagues in strongly supporting passage of this legislation, which renews the Generalized System of Preferences program and also reauthorizes a smaller Trade Adjustment Assistance program. This bill is a key piece of the bipartisan trade package before us today and is crucial to letting the world know that the United States is back at the trade negotiating table.
The legislation has two very important parts – GSP and TAA. With regard to GSP, this program provides preferential access to certain imports from selected developing countries. And, importantly, it benefits U.S. manufacturers and creates American jobs. Nearly three quarters of all GSP eligible imports are raw materials, components, parts, or machinery and equipment used by U.S. companies to manufacture goods in the United States. That means that U.S. manufacturers can make things here in the United States more cheaply and employ more Americans in the process. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a real win-win. Moreover, I must note that this program is fully offset with spending cuts.
On TAA, I applaud Chairman Camp for this scaled-back version of TAA that he was able to negotiate with the White House and Chairman Baucus. At the outset, the Administration demanded that there be a straight extension of the 2009 law for five years, and held the trade agreements hostage. Chairman Camp, however, refused to accept that ultimatum. He instead negotiated a strong deal and forced the Administration to accept deep cuts to the program as well as other significant spending cuts – including cuts to other unemployment benefit programs. Overall, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the TAA package costs one-half of what the Administration had originally demanded and is fully offset with spending cuts.