TRADE AND GLOBALIZATION ASSISTANCE ACT OF 2007
Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in strong support of the Trade and Globalization Assistance Act so that all American workers will be able to realize the benefits of the global economy. H.R. 3920 will update our system of trade adjustment assistance, TAA, to include service sector employees, strengthen benefit levels and duration, improve worker training, and stimulate economic recovery in affected communities. These are needed changes to ensure that workers affected by globalization are taken care of if their job is lost.
International trade is an essential part of the American economy today and in the future. In fact, total U.S. trade of goods and services last year totaled $3.6 trillion. The reduction of trade barriers in recent years has led to a corresponding increase in trade volume, to the benefit of both American businesses and American consumers. Knowing that these benefits do not accrue evenly across all industries, however, Congress established the TAA program to help smooth the transition for workers who have to make the shift to a more competitive field.
The safety net for outsourced jobs, which consists of extended unemployment benefits, worker training, and a health care tax credit, was first enacted in 1962 and updated in 2002. This update, however, did not go far enough to bring the program up to date with current trade and labor realities. For one, the benefits currently extend only to workers in the manufacturing sector, despite the fact that a growing percentage of jobs shifted overseas have been from the services sector, such as telemarketing and financial services. Since the nature of the American economy has moved away from a reliance on manufacturing, it only makes sense that workers in the services sector be eligible for the same support as industrial workers.
The bill makes a number of other changes to strengthen TAA benefits, including an increase in the health care tax credit, an extension of income support and training period, and a large increase in the overall funding level to ensure that no eligible worker is turned away due to lack of program funds.
But H.R. 3920 also takes the TAA program beyond the effects on individual workers by offering new tax incentives for investment in distressed communities that have lost manufacturing jobs. The whole notion of worker assistance is meaningless without creating new jobs for displaced employees. Targeting investment into communities with an available workforce would benefit employers and employees alike and maintain vibrant towns and cities across this Nation.
Finally, this bill considers the needs of the larger Federal-State unemployment insurance (UI) system by dedicating $100 million annually for the States to improve UI administration. Additional funding for this purpose would also be available from Federal unemployment trust funds. This money would be an incentive for States to cover part-time, low-wage, and other workers in State UI laws.
I look forward to passing this bill today in anticipation of also passing pending trade deals in the coming weeks and months. By giving our businesses the freedom they need to sell American goods and services abroad, we are ensuring that the American economy will stay strong and competitive in the future. By assuring our employees that there will always be a place for good American workers, we will ensure a strong labor force capable of evolving along with the global economy.
I support H.R. 3920, and I urge my colleagues to vote for it today.