This was a vote on an amendment by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) that would extend all trade adjustment assistance programs (which provide job retraining for workers who have lost their jobs as a result of trade policy, as well as assistance to U.S. manufacturers that had been adversely affected by imports competition) through fiscal year 2016.
Casey urged support for his amendment: “Trade adjustment assistance is very simple. We have a job crisis in the country. This program for decades now has helped people get through crises and, very importantly, has allowed them to be trained and retrained for the jobs of the future. We need this program, our workers need it, and our economy needs it.”
Brown argued: “This is about helping people who have lost their jobs, not only through no fault of their own but because of actions taken in this body and the House of Representatives on trade agreements and on trade policy. I met a woman in Youngstown [,Ohio] the other day who lost her job in manufacturing and she went back to school. She and her daughter are both now in nursing school training to be nurses. That is what TAA is about.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) opposed this amendment: “…This is a caustic program of dubious value. In our hearings, the representatives of the administration couldn't come up with one job that would be lost as a result of these free-trade agreements. There is no evidence that TAA works and, in all honesty, there is no commitment from the president we are going to have the free-trade agreements come up anyway. I have to say that even though we haven't done a trade agreement in years, TAA continues to grow and TAA is on top of unemployment insurance that we are paying anyway, and it isn't justified. All I can say is, literally, this program should not be adopted at this particular point.”
Hatch also argued: “…The president and many of my colleagues who purport to support these agreements made it clear that in reality they only support the FTAs [free trade agreements] in exchange for something else. That something else turned out to be a demand for more spending. I am worried that going forward this pattern will continue. I certainly hope not. As a nation we cannot afford to hold our international economic competitiveness hostage to unrelated demands for more spending or for a more liberal social agenda.”
The Senate agreed to this amendment by a vote of 69-28. All 53 Democrats and 16 Republicans voted “yea.” 28 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate agreed to an amendment that would extend all trade adjustment assistance programs through fiscal year 2016.