DASCHLE DELAYS VOTE ON TPA

Byline: Joanna Ramey

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D., N.D.) said Tuesday that he has taken legislation to grant the President trade promotion authority — and with it a bill dropping duties on Andean apparel — off the chamber’s short-term agenda.
Although a TPA supporter, Daschle cited lingering differences between the White House and Senate Democrats over federal benefits workers should receive when they lose jobs because of import competition as cause for the delay. The White House has balked at Senate Democrats who want to expand Trade Adjustment Assistance beyond unemployment insurance and job training to include health insurance and coverage for workers at contractor shops, like those in the garment industry.
Expanding unemployed worker benefits has been bundled with the Andean legislation in the larger TPA bill. TPA, key to the President Bush’s trade agenda, would allow the administration to negotiate trade pacts without fear that Congress would amend them. Bush last week urged Daschle to vote on TPA by April 22.
However, Daschle told reporters he won’t bring up TPA “until the White House starts seriously negotiating” on displaced-worker benefits. The Republican-controlled House has already passed TPA legislation, as well as a bill renewing displaced worker benefits that doesn’t measurably expand the help already offered. Daschle is seeking White House agreement on TAA to ensure changes are made in a final bill.

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