On average the Department of Labor (DOL) takes nearly 50 days to review and approve assistance for laid-off workers; new legislation would allow the DOL to reimburse states that provide these benefits to workers while their benefits are pending

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, along with Representative Rick Nolan, have introduced legislation to ensure laid-off workers affected by steel dumping receive the support they deserve. On average the Department of Labor (DOL) takes nearly 50 days to review and approve Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers (TAA) petitions. The Workforce Training Enhancement Act would allow the DOL to reimburse states that provide TAA benefits to workers while their petition to receive benefits is pending. TAA provides vital training and education benefits for laid-off workers.

“Steel dumping is causing layoffs in Minnesota and across the country and we must stand with laid-off workers to give them the support they deserve,” Klobuchar said. “This commonsense bill will provide much-needed relief to workers in Minnesota and across the country as they rejoin the workforce and support their families.”

“Minnesota’s iron ore and steel workers are the best in the world,” Franken said. “But illegal trade practices from foreign competitors have led to layoffs across the Range and are continuing to threaten our jobs and businesses. We need to put a stop to these illegal practices, and at the same time, we need to help our workers get back on their feet when they’re laid off. Our legislation will provide Minnesotans with important job training and education resources, and it needs to be passed into law.”

“This year alone, more than 2,000 steelworkers in Minnesota have lost their jobs as a result of foreign producers dumping low-cost subsidized steel into our country,” Nolan said. “Our legislation will help working men and women and their families through this difficult time as we continue our fight against the illegal steel dumping and other unfair trade practices that are causing these lay-offs.”

Klobuchar is a leader in efforts to fight foreign steel dumping and provide support for our U.S. steelworkers and miners affected by recent layoffs. She met with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on the Range in December and urged him to bring the concerns of Iron Rangers and all those affected by steel dumping directly to the president. She then invited Dan Hill, a laid-off steelworker from Eveleth who attended the meeting, to be her guest at the president’s State of the Union Address. Klobuchar and Franken have introduced legislation to crack down on illegal steel dumping by strengthening trade enforcement. Following consistent pressure from Klobuchar last year, the International Trade Commission voted to impose penalties on Mexican, Turkish, and Korean companies dumping steel in the U.S. In addition, she recently led a letter along with Franken and Representative Rick Nolan to successfully urge the U.S. Department of Labor to expedite approval of TAA petitions submitted by workers from the affected mining operations.

Franken has been working hard to stop illegal trade practices that impact Minnesota’s workers and businesses. He has also been fighting to ensure that workers get the job training and education support they need when they’ve been laid off. In December, he stressed the urgency of the jobs crisis in the Northland directly to President Obama’s Chief of Staff at an Iron Range meeting he helped arrange with mining companies, affected steelworkers, and local officials. He has pressed key trade agencies to act to limit the damage being done by unfairly priced foreign steel and has also introduced legislation with Klobuchar that would bolster trade enforcement laws.

Nolan has been leading the charge against illegal steel dumping and other unfair trade practices since he joined the Congress in 2013. After several direct meetings between  Nolan and White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough regarding the effect the steel crisis is having on Minnesota’s Iron Range, McDonough brought the issue directly to the attention of President Obama, who then made the decision to send McDonough to the heart of the layoffs on the Iron Range. Nolan also introduced the Support Our Steelworkers Act in November to immediately impose a  five-year moratorium on the importation of foreign steel and steel products into the United States. He has called on President Obama to use his authority under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 to impose high tariffs on foreign steel that would mark the equivalent of a moratorium; and he has consistently urged the Administration to toughen current trade enforcement policies. He also led a bipartisan letter with 22 of his colleagues warning President Obama of dangerous trade enforcement loopholes in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and urging him to protect the mining and steel industries during the trade enforcement process. He also joined Senators Klobuchar and Franken to successfully urge the U.S. Department of Labor to expedite approval of TAA petitions submitted by workers from the affected mining operations.

U.S. Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) is also an original co-sponsor of the bill.

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