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House Dems press again for trade aid for workers

More than two dozen House Democrats made a last-minute plea on Tuesday to renew a program that helps workers displaced by foreign trade before it expires at the end of December.

Bill sponsors, Reps. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithDemocrats reintroduce bill to block US from using nuclear weapons first Progressive lawmakers press DHS chief on immigration detention Overnight Defense: Biden makes his Afghanistan decision MORE (Wash.) and Sander Levin (Mich.), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, signed a letter with 30 other Democrats urging House leaders to reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which is set to expire at year's end. 

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"TAA is a critical part of our nation's competitiveness strategy in the face of a rapidly evolving world economy and its reauthorization enjoys bipartisan support," the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

"Congressional leadership and action to reauthorize TAA is needed to stop the termination of an effective program that helps American workers and firms compete, innovate, strengthen and diversify America's economy," they wrote.

Congress is expected to close the books on the 113th Congress within the week. 

The TAA program was last renewed in 2011, when Congress approved three trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

The House bill was introduced in March by Smith and Levin.

A recently introduced Senate measure would extend the TAA program through the end of 2020 and return funding to 2009 levels — $575 million for financial assistance and expertise to help manufacturers become more competitive.

Democrats argue that more than 2 million U.S. workers have received assistance from the TAA program during the past 40 years.

Nearly 105,000 workers, from all 50 states, were eligible for aid in 2013, they say. 

Democrats also cite statistics showing that 75 percent of workers in the TAA program got a job within six months and 90 percent of them kept their jobs.

TAA provides training assistance and income support as well as job search and relocation assistance.

Additional programs assist farmers, fishermen and manufacturing firms with the development and implementation of business plans to enable them to regain a competitive foothold in the economy.