Murray Supports Trade Bill

Aug 01 2002

Expanded trade is a recipe for economic growth in Washington state

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray voted today for the Trade Act of 2002 to grant Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to the President.

The legislation was adopted by the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote of 64-34.

Because of Senator Murray's efforts in the Senate, the legislation provides additional health care benefits for displaced workers.

Sen. Murray released the following statement:

"Washington state is the most trade dependent state in the country. The ability to maintain and expand international markets for our goods and services is tremendously important to my state. With these new trade tools, the Administration may seek out new and expanded opportunities for Washington state exporters. Expanded trade can play a role in job creation and economic recovery for Washington state.

The conference report, like all legislation, is a compromise. And while I would like to see even stronger provisions on Trade Adjustment Assistance, and worker and environmental protection, the conference report represents real progress on many issues I have worked on and supported over the years.

More workers will be eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance under this legislation. Some workers from secondary industries will be covered for the first time.

The final bill was enhanced by the Senate's insistence upon new and stronger health benefits to displaced workers.

The Conference Report provides a 65 percent up-front, refundable tax credit for COBRA coverage which is slightly less than the 70 percent up front credit provided by the Senate bill. This is a significant benefit.

Congress will have to monitor closely the degree to which displaced workers are able to access the benefit. If necessary, I will not hesitate to support further modification of this program to allow displaced workers and their families to keep their health insurance.

Given the tremendous importance of international trade to Washington state, today's vote was critical for our workers and our economy."