July 25, 2018

New Democrat Coalition Members Call on Congress to Protect American Workers

New Democrat Coalition Members Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), and Brad Schneider (IL-10) introduced bills to offer assistance to American farmers, workers, and businesses as President Trump’s trade war continues to hurt our workers and our economy. These bills would be unnecessary if it were not for President Trump’s unilateral trade actions that are fueling a trade war that is disrupting markets, raising prices, and costing American jobs. While it would be better for President Trump to cease these trade actions, as he continues down this path Congress needs to permanently update and fix support programs to allow workers, firms, and farmers adversely impacted by increased U.S. tariffs and the reciprocal actions taken by other countries to be eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester’s Trade Assistance for Farmers Act would expand the TAA for Farmers program to include farmers, growers, and producers negatively impacted by retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports. Under current law, the TAA for Farmers program only provides federal assistance to those experiencing hardship as a result of changing commodity markets from increased imports.

“While there is a real need to hold China and bad actors accountable for trade imbalances and currency manipulation, we cannot do it through policies that harm the proud farmers and growers who help feed the world,” said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. “In an already difficult agricultural economy, the Administration’s trade actions and the retaliatory tariffs they triggered have made it even more difficult for family farmers to sell their crops and make ends meet. Our farmers want help to stay competitive while they find new markets to sell their crops and commodities. The Trade Assistance for Farmers Act will provide a permanent fix to help impacted farmers, growers, and businesses get the assistance they need in current and future agricultural markets.”

Rep. Suzan DelBene’s legislation would expand the TAA for Workers program in the Department of Labor to cover workers who lose their jobs when U.S. exports drop due to increased tariffs imposed by foreign nations. Currently, TAA provides federal assistance to workers who have been displaced due to import competition and offshoring. Such assistance includes job training, health coverage tax credits, and income support for people who have exhausted their unemployment compensation and are enrolled in job training.

“We are already seeing the human impact of President Trump’s costly trade war as even allies like Canada and the European Union strike back by leveling tariffs on U.S. businesses, leaving American workers, whose jobs depend on open markets, to suffer the consequences. With President Trump pummeling our nation’s middle class, it’s our responsibility to ensure American workers have the tools to get back on their feet,” said Congresswoman Suzan DelBene. “Nobody wins in a trade war, and the biggest casualties are hardworking Americans. While the President plays games with our economy, we will continue to fight for good jobs and good wages.”

Rep. Brad Schneider’s legislation would expand Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) to include reduced exports resulting from retaliatory tariffs as a qualifying factor for the program. Created in 1962 and administered by the Department of Commerce, TAAF helps firms develop and implement business recovery plans to adapt to competition caused by changing trade policies. The program does not currently provide aid to those experiencing reduced exports as a result of retaliatory tariffs.

“President Trump’s trade war is spiraling out of control, and our workers and small businesses are paying the price,” said Congressman Brad Schneider. “Congress can provide relief from the President’s misguided policies, and expanding Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms is a commonsense step to help the local businesses affected by retaliatory tariffs adapt. The Administration needs to end this self-defeating trade war which is making it harder for America to compete.”

This Congress, New Democrat Coalition (NDC) Members have led the effort to reassert Congress’s role in reining in the President’s unilateral trade actions. Earlier this year, NDC Trade Task Force Co-Chairs Rick Larsen and Gregory W. Meeks and NDC Chair Emeritus Ron Kind, called on the Ways and Means, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees to immediately hold a series of hearings on the potential impacts of President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.