Democrats, Republicans take a break as trade aid to workers dwindles

Congress is entering the July 4 recess with Democrats and Republicans at odds over next steps to pass key trade legislation, including retraining funds for workers affected by foreign competition.

Ways and Means House Speaker Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., And Commerce Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Accused Republicans of allowing the program to Trade Adjustment Assistance, or TAA, to return starting Thursday to a program that provides fewer benefits and training for workers in the manufacturing sector. The program will no longer cover the service sector.

The House failed to act on a bill passed by the Senate on June 24 that would have kept the extended benefits package until July 24. The Congressional Research Service said the legal cap on training and re-employment services will drop from $ 450 million to $ 220 million.

“As our country continues to grapple with the reverberating effects of the pandemic, this reversion will also disproportionately harm women and minority workers, and prevent trade-affected workers from China from accessing the program.” Neal and Blumenauer said in a joint statement.

They said Democrats wanted to modernize and re-authorize the TAA, an apparent allusion to Blumenauer’s legislation, but “Republicans have refused to engage.” Blumenauer’s bill would, among other things, expand the program to include government workers affected when public sector services are sent overseas.

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