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Ways & Means Republicans: DOL Defying Congressional Will on TAA and Reducing State Flexibility to Help Workers

October 05, 2009

Washington D.C. – In public comments to the U.S. Department of Labor, Ways & Means Republican Members today expressed their strong opposition to the Department’s proposed federal mandate that state Employment Service (ES) employees administer TAA-funded benefits and services under the expanded Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for workers program. 

Earlier this year, lawmakers in both chambers of Congress worked together to enact a new TAA law to improve and expand the existing TAA program.  During the legislative process, the Democratic and Republican leaders from the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee agreed to drop the 2007 House-passed bill’s requirement that only state ES staff administer the program.  In their public comments, Ways & Means Republican Members state, “We are disappointed that the Department intends to reverse, rather than respect, this clear Congressional intent, especially because the rejection of this very mandate paved the way for the final TAA conference agreement supported by key House and Senate leaders in both parties and passed by Congress.” 

In their comments, the Members also note that the proposed federal mandate would require 27 states to change, at potentially significant cost and burden in these difficult economic times, the manner in which they have each determined to most effectively administer the TAA program.  Yet, the Department fails to provide a credible rationale for this mandate.  According to 2009 Department data, the 27 states are: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.  The comments further note that even states that currently choose to use only state ES staff stand to be adversely affected because the proposed federal mandate would prevent them from making different staffing choices in the future.

To read the full public comments to the Department, click here.