This Time Trade Bill Gets Adam Smith's Vote

By John S. McClenahen Before it leaves for its summer vacation on Aug. 2, the U.S. Senate could approve compromise legislation that gives the White House the fast-track negotiating authority it has lacked for eight years and laid-off workers trade-adjustment assistance that includes more money for job training and a new health-care benefit. The package already has the approval of Adam Smith. No, not the 18th century Scottish economist of that name, although he might have approved of its fast-track authority provision, which allows Congress to approve or reject, but not amend, trade agreements the president negotiates with foreign countries. The Adam Smith this time is Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington state, one of 215 members of the House voting to approve the bill, which passed by a three-vote margin. Because it did not contain benefits for workers, Smith opposed the original version of the legislation, which the Bush Administration has dubbed trade-promotion authority. "In today's economy, workers need to upgrade the skills constantly," Smith argues. "This bill triples the assistance available to laid-off workers through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. [And] for the first time ever, there will be a health-care benefit to offset the high cost of health-care premiums."

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