Finance Committee Approves Cantwell Amendments to Trade Bills

Senator’s legislation would increase resources for trade enforcement and enhance collection of labor statistics

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance voted to adopt amendments sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to a package of trade bills passed by the committee. The amendments would increase resources for enforcement and enhance the collection of labor statistics.

“I think there is great economic opportunity outside the United States and I support Trade Promotion Authority,” Cantwell said. “One of the questions we need to ask ourselves is - do agencies have the ability to enforce our trade deals and the resources they need to do the job.  My amendments make a lot of long-needed improvements to our trade enforcement regime.”

The amendments included:

  • Trade Enforcement Trust Fund:  Would create a fund jointly managed by the U.S. Trade Representative and the State Department to provide resources to agencies responsible the enforcement of free trade agreements. The fund would be capitalized through existing revenue collected from enforcing anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws. “Between Department of Labor and the United States Trade Representative, we had fewer staff enforcing these provisions than the number of countries with which we have Free Trade Agreements,” Cantwell said.
  • Labor statistics: Would require employers to report occupational data when they file information for unemployment insurance. Occupational data is not currently collected in a form that is easily accessible to researchers or public officials. Making employment data readily available would expand understanding of the labor market as international trade increases, and identify the skills and jobs in highest demand within particular industries.

Washington state is the third largest exporter in the country. Washington’s aerospace industry supports nearly 140,000 jobs and exports about $60 billion. The state’s agriculture and food industry generates $49 billion and employs more than 160,000 people.