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Public Statements

Extending the Generalized System of Preferences

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 2832, legislation that will extend the Trade Adjustment Assistance program and the 2009 TAA reforms for workers, firms, and farmers through December 31, 2013.

* Since its creation nearly half a century ago, TAA has helped millions of Americans whose jobs were lost to outsourcing, off-shoring, and increased foreign competition.

* For many, TAA is a critical lifeline that provides retraining and education, health insurance assistance, and other crucial support initiatives to workers affected by international trade.

* TAA also helps small businesses and farmers become more competitive through the TAA for firms and TAA for farmers program.

* This legislation will also extend important reforms made to TAA in 2009, but were allowed to expire in February of this year. These improvements include guaranteeing access to training for American service and manufacturing workers, as well as allow workers to qualify for TAA benefits if their firms shifted production to any country, including China and India, not just countries with which the United States has entered into a free trade agreement.

* More than 185,000 additional trade-impacted workers have become eligible for training opportunities and benefits under the 2009 reforms.

* In my state alone, over 20,000 workers have benefited from TAA's services and support since May 2009. Nationwide, nearly half a million Americans have benefited from TAA over the past two years.

* TAA has historically received bipartisan support in this chamber. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me and support this legislation.

* Unfortunately, programs like TAA would not be necessary if this Congress and this Administration would push for trade deals that would focus on job creation here at home.

* The history of free trade agreements shows that the promised benefits of FTAs, be with Mexico and NAFTA, or with China and Most-Favored-Trade Status, have not materialized.

* In fact, it has been the opposite.

* Soon after the enactment of NAFTA in 1994, six factories in my district in Houston were shut down. The thousands of Houstonians who were laid-off were able to get assistance through TAA, but would have much rather have kept their jobs than seen their livelihoods moved to Mexico.

* Before NAFTA came into effect, the United States had an annual trade surplus of over $1 billion with Mexico. Last year, our nation's trade deficit with our southern neighbor reached $66 billion.

* The story is similar with China. In 1999, the year before permanent MFT status was granted on China, our trade deficit was $68 billion.

* Today, that deficit has exploded to $273 billion, and with it, millions of American jobs. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found that the trade deficit with China eliminated or displaced 2.8 million jobs between 2001 and 2010.

* I fear that enactment of the trade agreements debated in this chamber today will further exacerbate job losses in our country.

* EPI found in a study last year that the Korea FTA alone would displace 159,000 jobs in the United States. The same study found that the Colombia FTA would cost the American people 55,000 jobs.

* It is time for this chamber to ask why our nation gives open access to our markets to foreign competitors--as is the case with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama--and only, years later, look to gain similar access into their markets.

* History has shown me that genuine free trade comes when all parties receive equal access to each others' markets. All three of these agreements fail to do so.

* I close by calling on my colleagues today to vote in favor of working Americans by voting against these trade agreements and voting in favor of TAA.

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