Mr. President, I would like to speak against the amendment offered by the Senator from Arizona, Mr. McCain, amendment No. 740.
This Chamber approved three free-trade agreements last week and did so with overwhelming support. But for many, that support hinged on passage of a robust trade adjustment assistance program, otherwise known as TAA.
Last month, the Senate approved trade adjustment assistance, and during floor consideration an amendment similar to the one offered by Senator McCain was rejected. Why was it rejected? I will tell you why. Because a majority of Senators in this Chamber want to help small businesses. We want to help small businesses improve their competitiveness, and we want to help small businesses take advantage of the opportunities trade provides.
But this amendment would end the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Program. It would end the only program specifically designed to help small manufacturers hurt by import competition. It would end the program that helps companies adjust, retool, and stay competitive in an increasingly global economy.
In 2010, trade adjustment assistance for firms enabled 330 companies to devise strategies that got them back on track. It helped them identify new markets. It helped them improve inefficiencies. It helped them restructure their debt, and it helped them find new financing.
The results proved that the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Program works. Ninety-eight percent of the companies that participated in the program are still in business after 5 years. Without trade adjustment assistance for firms, many of these companies would be out of business and their workers out of jobs.
The program has helped create or retain more than 50,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs since 2006. I would think that with unemployment at such high rates--over 9 percent--and with the large vote in this body on the currency amendment with respect to the Chinese manipulation of currency, it makes eminent sense to help American workers who lost jobs, not prevent help to American workers who have lost jobs on account of trade. And that is what the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Program does--it helps American workers who have lost jobs on account of trade.
Senator McCain's amendment will put those jobs at risk. I don't think that is what this body wants to do. We should be creating jobs, not destroying them. For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to vote no on the amendment.
I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.