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Public Statements

Omnibus Trade Act of 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 6517, the Omnibus Trade Act of 2010.

Shipping jobs overseas has become an industry unto itself. Jobs and people are displaced again and again. This is an attempt to try to respond to those workers who have lost jobs under the guise of free trade. Our first line of defense is fair trade that doesn't sacrifice the American workforce.

This is good bipartisan legislation. We haven't had too much of it, so we might not have noticed it.

I am pleased that the committee was able to work in a bipartisan fashion with the minority to extend these programs and provisions that help our workers and businesses compete in this global economy. It is particularly critical that we reauthorize the reforms Congress made to the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, or the TAA, which was passed as part of the Recovery Act in February of last year.

As the chairman pointed out, these reforms have been in place now for some time, and the program has helped hundreds of thousands of workers; 5,000 of those workers whose jobs were shipped overseas during this recession were in New Jersey. They received retraining, support for their incomes, and they were able to keep their health care. We expanded the program's eligibility, including the service sector and more manufacturing jobs; we increased training and health coverage benefits, and we streamlined the program, making it more flexible and efficient for workers to take advantage of.

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Mr. PASCRELL. One of the most important reforms expands eligibility to all workers whose jobs have been moved overseas, not just for those jobs that were lost to our free trade partners. If we allow this provision to expire, workers whose jobs have been shipped to China or India could be ineligible for TAA benefits. They will be out of luck.

All in all, the Department of Labor estimates that, thanks to these reforms, an additional 155,000 trade-impacted workers were eligible for the TAA program. In New Jersey, almost 90 percent of the workers who received TAA benefits were eligible because of the reforms that we passed in February of 2009. We must continue to fight for those jobs. We must continue to keep American jobs here.

For those who get unavoidably left behind, providing them with the opportunity to get support and retraining at a place like Passaic County Community College, in my district, in Paterson, New Jersey, through the TAA Community College Grant program is the least we can do, Mr. Speaker, for our workers who have been hard hit in the last 10 years.

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