Senators Baldwin and Cassidy Introduce Resilient Communities Act to Aid Communities Harmed By Unfair Trade
On December 6, 2023, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced a bill titled the Resilient Communities Act to support communities in the United States that have been negatively affected by unfair trade. This legislation would direct antidumping and countervailing duty revenue collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) to a Resilient Communities Fund kept by the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”). CBP regularly collects between $100 million and $300 million in antidumping and countervailing duty revenue each year. The bill vests Commerce with discretion to award grants from the fund to local communities where U.S. producers or workers have suffered from injurious trade practices.
According to Senator Baldwin, the bill aims to “invest in the places that are experiencing layoffs or closures because Chinese companies aren’t playing by the rules.” Both senators noted that Americans have lost millions of jobs to unfair trade over the past three decades. To combat this harm, Commerce could allocate funds to help U.S. producers to continue manufacturing and competing against unfair trade. Priority for grants would be given to domestic producers that are most likely to increase production and employment within the affected community as a result of the grant. The bill also allows for funds to support workforce development, building public infrastructure, improving access to social resources and services, complying with federal environmental laws, building affordable housing, and expanding broadband access.
The bill is supported by the United Steelworkers, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, and the American Shrimp Processors Association.
A key characteristic of the Resilient Communities Fund is that it would be funded by tariff revenue collected by CBP, distinguishing it from a similar federal program – Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) – that relied on regular Congressional reauthorization and refunding. Established in 1962, the TAA Program helped workers suffering from job losses or reduced wages as a result of import competition, and offered benefits such as job training, job search and relocation allowances, income support, and other reemployment services; it has served more than 5 million American workers since 1974. The TAA Program, however, expired as of July 1, 2022. As a result of Congress’s failure to reauthorize the program, American workers currently lack access to new benefits and tens of thousands of prior requests for assistance remain pending.