Congress renews program for trade-impacted workers

June 25, 2015

Today, the House passed the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reauthorization Act (TAARA) of 2015, legislation to reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which provides training and employment services to workers who have been displaced by foreign trade. The measure – passed as part of a broader trade package – was approved by the Senate last week, and will now go to the President’s desk for his signature.

First established as part of the 2002 Trade Act, TAA supports a range of benefits and services for trade-impacted workers, including employment and case management services, training, job search allowances, relocation allowances, and income support.

The program has been reauthorized twice, first by the Trade and Globalization Adjustment Assistance Act (TGAAA) of 2009, and then by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act (TAAEA) in 2011. Authorization for TAAEA expired in December 2013, triggering a one-year reversion to the 2002 provisions of the law, which offer less generous benefits than TAAEA. The reversion also activated a set of sunset provisions, which extend certain elements of the 2011 law. Congress then used fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations legislation to extend TAAEA through the end of the fiscal year. Without further action, the program would have lapsed in its entirety on October 1, 2015.

TAARA essentially extends TAAEA through June 30, 2021.While TAAEA authorized up to $575 million per year for state formula grants, TAARA allows up to $450 million in annual funding. Congress also made changes to the law to make it consistent with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, including by replacing the core indicators of performance established by TAAEA with primary indicators of performance that are consistent with WIOA. The bill also adds new data collection and reporting requirements, requiring reporting on the average cost of workers receiving training and the percentage of workers who receive training, including unsubsidized training-related employment.

TAARA notably does not include a renewal of the TAA Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program, which authorized grants to community colleges to develop, offer, or improve training programs for trade-impacted workers. First authorized in 2009 as part of TGAAA, Congress provided a total of $2 billion in funding for the TAACCT program between 2011 and 2014. The final round of TAACCCT grants was awarded in September 2014.