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Public Statements

Extending the Generalized System of Preferences

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KIND. I thank my good friend and colleague from the committee for yielding me this time.

Madam Speaker, many of us have been rising throughout the course of the debate today talking about the merits of the three pending trade agreements before us and why it's important for us to move forward on them, the reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers, greater market access to the goods, product services that are being made right here in America, a system of rules that all countries have to abide by that are parties to this agreement, according to international labor and environmental standards included in the body of the agreement, fully enforceable with any other provision, protection of intellectual property rights, and on and on and on. That's why I'm supportive of the three bilateral agreements before us.

But to be honest with the American people, and as long as trade remains a two-way street, there will be adverse impacts of trade on companies and workers here in America. When that occurs, then the workers of that business should not just be left on their own.

That's why the reauthorization of the Trade Adjustment Assistance is important today, to move forward hand-in-hand with those trade agreements so those workers will have an opportunity to upgrade their skills, to go to school, to have a better match in the job market and find placement as quickly as possible. Since 1962, the TAA program has assisted those workers who lost their position as a result of international trade, helped them retrain and acquire skills needed for them to be more competitive in the global marketplace.

In Wisconsin alone in 2010, we had an estimated 10,359 workers who were covered by this program, and my State's not alone. In fact, the three largest TAA State recipients were Michigan, Ohio, California.

In 2010 in Wisconsin, 52 percent of the TAA participants were successfully employed within 3 months of leaving the program, and 88 percent of those participants continued that employment over the next few quarters. The benefit of this program not only helps workers in my State, but also those specifically in western Wisconsin that I represent.

In 2010, again, when Chart Energy & Chemicals in La Crosse moved some of its production line to China, approximately 230 employees were laid off, but they were able to receive reemployment and training services under the Federal TAA program. When Northern Engraving Corporation shut down its Luxco division tool shop in La Crosse, 27 workers were laid off; and they too qualified for assistance so that they could get reintegrated in the regional economy.

There are many more examples of that throughout Wisconsin and, I am sure, throughout the country. And that's why it was a bit discouraging that it took so long for us to reach an agreement on TAA reauthorization when there's wide bipartisan support and great support on the outside, from the Chamber of Commerce to the AFL-CIO, saying this is the right and decent thing to do for America's workers if we are going to move forward in a proactive trade agenda.

I want to take a moment and commend my good friend and colleague, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Camp, for the work that he did with Senator Baucus in order to get the TAA reauthorization in the place that it is today. I think it was very helpful.


Mr. KIND. I thank my friend.

As I mentioned in committee last week during the markup, I think it would make sense if the committee, Ways and Means that had jurisdiction, were to hold some hearings as we move forward on ways that we can improve the efficiency and the outcome of the TAA program. Any program is worthy of change and improvements. I think this is right for that.

My concern is this is only a 3-year reauthorization. I hope we can continue bipartisan support that continues beyond 3 years so it's not having to be linked to other trade agreements, but I think our committee has some work to do to improve a very successful program.

I encourage my colleagues to support it.

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