Since 1962, the T.A.A. Program has retrained and assisted U.S. workers who have lost their jobs to foreign imports. In 2009, the program was updated to include technology workers and other professionals who have lost their jobs to offshoring.
The 2009 offshoring provisions of the program were scheduled to expire on Saturday (February 12, 2011) unless Congress extended them.
Congress adjourned on Friday without doing so, and 170,000 displaced U.S. workers could be losing their T.A.A. benefits soon. According to a Canadian Press story:
Expansions to the half-century-old Trade Adjustment Assistance program incorporated in the 2009 economic stimulus act expired Saturday after efforts to extend them were rebuffed in the House of Representatives and Senate this past week. Of the 400,000 workers certified to receive TAA services since the stimulus act passed two years ago, 170,000 might not have been eligible under the old, pre-2009 criteria, according to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
According to The Wall Street Journal, key Republicans want new trade pacts with Columbia, South Korea and Panama before they'll take action on the T.A.A. extension. Said Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) in a statement contained in the WSJ article: "Without this commitment from the administration, other trade measures—such as TAA and ATPA [sic], which we sought to extend this week—are now in limbo, and American workers will suffer as a result."
I'll keep an eye on developments. In the meantime, here's a round-up of relevant reading:
The State Column and another State Column
The Heritage Foundation
Club For Growth
Upper Michigan Source
Idaho Business Review