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Pelosi: 'Free and Fair Trade Can Only Thrive If We Help Those Who Are Facing the Downsides of a Global Economy'

Washington, D.C. -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the floor this afternoon expressing her support to reauthorize Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs for workers, firms, and farmers for five years.  The bill, H.R. 3920, passed by a vote of 264 to 157.  Below are the Speaker's remarks:

'In recent years, the increasingly global market has brought many opportunities, but has also created unprecedented challenges as to how we address the increased economic insecurity faced by many of America's working families.

'Unfortunately, recent trade policy has focused solely on opening new markets and has dismissed the real consequences for those who lose their jobs, as well as the communities across America that are hard hit with job loss.

'Democrats recognize that our economic future rests on our ability to open new markets for U.S. goods, especially since our markets are already open to our trading partners.

'However, the status quo is not working and we must do much more to help American workers compete and thrive in an increasingly competitive global market.  That is the purpose of this important legislation before us.

'With our Innovation Agenda, much of which has been passed overwhelmingly in a bipartisan way by the Congress and signed into law by the President, we made serious and sustained investments in research and development, and help promote the public-private partnerships that will develop high-risk high-reward ideas into marketable technologies, and more jobs for American workers.  

'In other words we're saying if we are going to compete successfully, we must innovate.  That innovation begins in the classroom.  So Democrats recognize that in a globalized, knowledge-based economy, America's greatest resource for innovation and economic growth resides within America's classrooms, and we have made a new commitment to encouraging students and ensuring highly-qualified teachers in the fields of math, science and engineering.

'We have also made higher education more affordable and accessible, again in a strong bipartisan way, voted by this House.  We passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act and it has been signed into law by the President.  It makes the largest investment in student financial aid since passage of the GI Bill in 1944. 

'We have also forged a new approach to free trade agreements - where for the first time, Democrats and Republicans in Congress, working with the Administration, were able to forge a new approach.  For the first time, enforceable, basic labor rights and environmental standards will be included in free trade agreements negotiated by the Bush administration, ensuring that our trading partners do not lure American jobs abroad through the use of weak labor rights and lax environmental standards.

'Today's bill is the next step in our agenda to expand economic security.  It is a departure from the status quo - the current Trade Adjustment Assistance initiative that does not do enough to help those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

'Specifically, the bill will dramatically expand the number of workers who qualify for TAA benefits; offer increased funding and options for worker training so that individuals can pursue substantive training programs that lead to higher-paying jobs; expand access to health care by strengthening and streamlining the health care tax credit and other health benefits, so that workers are not forced to live without health care as they search for a job; and revitalize communities decimated by manufacturing job loss with tax incentives.

'This would represent a huge step forward.  This bill represents a renewed commitment to helping American workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Free and fair trade can only thrive if we help those who are facing the downsides of a global economy.

'In the coming months, Democrats will continue to lay out a positive agenda to help ensure economic growth and economic security for America's families.  We will continue to pursue a positive agenda to keep America number one.'