WASHINGTON, D.C. – Top Republican on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) kicked off the second day of Democrats’ crippling $3.5 trillion tax hike and spending hearing noting that Democrats allowed job-creating trade programs to expire while shoveling billions of funding towards more costly, less effective programs.
Rep. Buchanan said:
“We are disappointed that our colleagues in the Majority have chosen to seek reauthorization for this program in this partisan context. Republicans believe that we need a strategy for creating new, high-paying, export-oriented jobs, as well as providing workers displaced by trade with income support and resources to help them return to the workforce quickly.”
CLICK HERE to watch Rep. Buchanan’s opening statement.
CLICK HERE to watch the full hearing.
Republicans Are Fighting on Behalf of Main Street Businesses and America’s Workers:
- Top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Rep. Buchanan introduced the Trade Preferences and American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act in June.
- The bill would renew the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) and Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) — two vital trade programs that protect U.S. workers and small businesses.
Democrats’ Delay is Hurting American Workers, Small Business, and Our Jobs Recovery:
- Democrats’ delay of renewing these two key trade programs that support high-paying jobs in every state has already cost American businesses over $450 million.
- Further delay will cost even more—including jobs to American workers and families.
Renewal of These Pro-Jobs Programs Can and Should be Bipartisan:
- The 2018 MTB passed the House by a unanimous recorded vote of 402-0 and the 2018 GSP renewal passed the House by a 400-2 margin, without a single House Democrat voting against either program.
Rep. Buchanan’ full opening statement as prepared for delivery appears below.
Mr. Chairman, since its inception, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) has been a program designed to offset the unanticipated adverse effects of free trade. While international trade agreements offer net benefits to our economy and workers by increasing access to foreign markets for U.S. goods and services, trade agreements can adversely affect some domestic industries and workers who face increased import competition.
Congress created TAA in 1962 in conjunction with its decision to authorize the President to make aggressive trade liberalization commitments in Geneva. Since then, Congress has almost always reauthorized TAA on a bipartisan basis, engaging in significant debate and compromise to develop balanced trade packages that include TAA along with legislation that helps open foreign markets for U.S. products.
For these reasons, we are disappointed that our colleagues in the Majority have chosen to seek reauthorization for this program in this partisan context. Republicans believe that we need a strategy for creating new, high-paying, export-oriented jobs, as well as providing workers displaced by trade with income support and resources to help them return to the workforce quickly.
Given our focus on finding new jobs for workers displaced by trade, we simply cannot comprehend why our Democrat colleagues allowed three important job-creating trade initiatives—Trade Promotion Authority, the Generalized System of Preferences, and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill—to expire.
Subtitle D of the Budget Reconciliation bill contemplates a massive expansion of TAA in almost every area. It also relaxes the eligibility requirements for the program to such an extent that its relationship to trade is no longer apparent. I am concerned that it does not do enough to reform the various TAA programs to make them as efficient and accessible as possible.
This leads me to the fiscal impact of this bill. The current bill increases funding for the TAA for Workers program to $1 billion per year. This is more than double the $450 million per year authorized most recently, and this large increase is particularly hard for me to understand at a time when many job-creators in my district inform me that they are eager to hire but can’t find enough workers.
The Majority’s bill also authorizes $1 billion a year in funding for the TAA for Communities program—notwithstanding the fact that the Obama Administration decided to eliminate it after determining that it was less effective and most costly than other programs. Yet, astonishingly, the Majority now proposes to bring it back with authorized appropriations of $1 billion per year, an increase of 6,229 percent from the $15.8 million appropriated most recently, in FY 2010.
And it authorizes $1.3 billion in funding for the TAA for Community Colleges and Career Training (CCCT) program, for which we previously appropriated $500 million per year. At the same time, the bill caps funding for TAA for Firms and TAA for Farmers at a mere $50 million a year. These numbers do not make sense and are not justified.
Democrats maintain that this increase in funding is necessary given the devastating impacts that the COVID-19 crisis has had on the U.S. economy and its workers. We already have appropriated trillions of dollars in direct spending to address the pandemic’s job dislocation effects. TAA is a program for workers, firms, and farmers displaced by trade liberalization and import competition.
With this bill, Democrats propose to blur the lines between TAA and other federally-funded unemployment support and redevelopment programs. This is the wrong approach, and we should instead be creating jobs through trade while reforming TAA programs to make them more efficient and effective for both workers and job-creators.