Today, Congressman Dale E. Kildee (D-MI), Co-Chair of the Congressional Automotive Caucus, led a letter signed by 27 other Members of Congress to President Barack Obama urging him to stand firm against Republican demands and include Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) in the pending Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. While the signers of the letter take issue with various aspects of the agreements and may continue to oppose them, at a minimum they insist that TAA must be included and that trade-related job losses must be addressed.
The letter was signed by Representatives Judy Chu, Hansen Clarke, Yvette Clarke, John Conyers, Mark Critz, Peter DeFazio, John Dingell, Michael Doyle, John Garamendi, Colleen Hanabusa, Maurice Hinchey, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Hank Johnson, James Langevin, Daniel Lipinski, Betty McCollum, James McGovern, Gwen Moore, Bill Owens, Frank Pallone, Gary Peters, Charles Rangel, Tim Ryan, Janice Schakowsky, Jose Serrano, David Wu, John Yarmuth.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to insist that Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) be included in any effort to advance the pending Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. House Republicans have made it clear that they will not consider TAA as part of the FTAs before Congress. While many of us have serious and various problems with these trade agreements and may continue to oppose them, at a minimum they must include TAA.
America's manufacturing sector has been hit hard by trade agreements that stack the deck unfairly against American workers. Since 1979, manufacturing employment has decreased by nearly 40% and tens of thousands of manufacturing sites have closed. When a factory closes its doors, it's not just the jobs inside that are lost. Local businesses and suppliers lose valuable customers. Homes are abandoned and property values decline, diminishing school revenues. Worst of all, workers are left without a means to support their families.
TAA has been critical to providing financial assistance to our constituents and communities damaged by unfair trade deals. TAA provides aid to workers who lose their jobs or whose hours of work and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports. It provides technical assistance to help trade-impacted firms make strategic adjustments necessary to remain competitive in a global economy. Communities across America depend upon TAA programs to recover from unfair competition overseas.
Despite the importance of this program, the House Committee on Ways and Means plans to discuss proposals for the pending FTAs without addressing TAA and trade-related job losses. House Republican leadership also insists that TAA be considered separately from the trade agreements. These proposals cannot stand and America's workers deserve better.
We therefore strongly encourage you to stand firm against these and other attacks on Trade Adjustment Assistance programs and continue to support American workers.