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Ways and Means Republicans: Administration Defies Congressional Will and Reduces State Flexibility to Help Workers Obtain TAA and Get Back to Work

April 13, 2010

In response to the issuance of a final rule by the U.S. Department of Labor ending state autonomy to choose how best to staff and administer Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) services and instead requiring that only state “Employment Service” employees administer TAA-funded benefits and services under the expanded TAA for workers program, Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement:

“Instead of focusing on ways to help unemployed workers most effectively, the Administration has crafted a policy that requires only certain state employees to provide important trade adjustment assistance services to dislocated workers.  This action, which contradicts the bipartisan Congressional compromise reached a year ago, will force a majority of states to change their practices and will increase inefficiencies.”

Background: On October 5, 2009, in public comments to the U.S. Department of Labor, Ways & Means Republican Members 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 TAA for workers program.  In 2009, 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 stated, “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 noted 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 failed 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 noted 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