WASHINGTON, June 25, 2015 – The House cleared away another key trade item off President Obama's to-do list, providing final congressional approval to an extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance programs.
The renewal of TAA was originally included in a trade promotion bill but was removed after House Democrats stalled the combined legislation by voting en masse against the TAA section.
GOP leaders then folded the TAA extension into a bill that renews duty-free status, or preferences, for imports from poor countries in Africa and elsewhere. The new TAA-preferences bill (HR 1295) passed the Senate by voice vote on Wednesday and was approved by the House Thursday, 286-138.
The Trade Promotion Authority measure (HR 2146) was cleared by the Senate Wednesday for President Obama’s signature.
House Democrats voted 175-6 in favor of the TAA-preferences bill Thursday since there was no longer any chance of using the issue to stop the TPA measure, which sets up the congressional process for considering new trade agreements. TAA programs, which expire Sept. 30, provide cash assistance and retraining to workers, businesses and farmers harmed by imports.
Obama said that congressional approval of the two bills “represent a much-needed win for hardworking American families.”
“We should level the playing field so that our workers have the chance to compete and win,” he said. “That's what this new legislation will help us do, and I look forward to signing these bipartisan bills into law as soon as they reach my desk.”
The House and Senate still need to agree on a final version of a third bill (HR 644) that authorizes trade enforcement measures.