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House Education & Workforce Committee

House Advances Bipartisan Legislation to Support Youth Victims of Sex Trafficking

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 12:00am

The House of Representatives today approved the final bill in a series of legislative reforms aimed at strengthening support for youth who are victims of sex trafficking. The proposed bills would improve identification and assessment of child sex trafficking victims and enhance existing services for runaway and homeless youth.

“We have a moral obligation to do all we can to serve children who are victims of sex trafficking,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “No victim should be denied critical support because of outdated policies or fall through the cracks of a child welfare system. The legislation passed by the House will fix these flaws and strengthen our response to this national crisis. I want to thank Representatives Bass, Heck, and Beatty for helping to lead this important, bipartisan effort.”

Each year an estimated 300,000 children become victims of sex trafficking. Many of these children were once involved in a state child welfare system, yet their experience with sexual exploitation may go undetected. The House-passed bipartisan legislation would enhance support services for victims and improve the child welfare response to trafficking:

  • Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act. Introduced by Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), John Kline (R-MN), Tom Marino (R-PA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the legislation (H.R. 5081) will improve practices within state child welfare systems to identify, assess, and document sex trafficking victims. H.R. 5081 passed the House by a vote of 399 to 0 on Friday, July 25.
                  
  • Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act. Introduced by Reps. Joe Heck (R-NV), John Kline (R-MN), and Bobby Scott (D-VA), the legislation (H.R. 5076) will improve support provided specifically to runaway and homeless youth who are victims of trafficking. H.R. 5076 passed the House by voice vote on Wednesday, July 23.

The House also passed earlier this week H.R. 5111, legislation introduced by Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) that would add the term “child sex trafficking” to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline reporting areas to reinforce that these children are victims, not criminals. H.R. 5111 passed the House by a vote of 409 to 0 on Thursday, July 24. 

To learn more about the legislative proposals, click here.

To watch Chairman Kline’s floor remarks on H.R. 5076, click here

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Kline Applauds Passage of Higher Ed Bill to Improve Student Financial Counseling

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:00am

The House of Representatives today approved bipartisan legislation that would improve financial counseling support for college students and their parents. Passed by a vote of 405 to 11, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 4984) is the third in a series of bills passed by the House to strengthen the nation’s higher education system.

Authored by Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and cosponsored by Reps. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act:

  • Ensures both students and parents who participate in a federal loan program receive interactive counseling each year that reflects their individual borrowing situation.
                                                                                                
  • Informs low-income students about the terms and conditions of the Pell Grant program through annual counseling that will be provided to all grant recipients. 
                                                                                              
  • Directs the secretary of education to maintain and disseminate a consumer-tested, online counseling tool institutions can use to provide annual loan counseling, exit counseling, and annual Pell Grant counseling.

Earlier this week, the House also passed with overwhelming bipartisan support legislation to spur innovation and strengthen transparency in higher education. Speaking of the progress being made to reauthorize the Higher Education ActEducation and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said:

The House continues to make strong, bipartisan progress toward strengthening our nation’s higher education system. The legislation advanced today will help students and families make smart choices about paying for a college education. I want to thank Representatives Guthrie, Hudson, and Bonamici for their bipartisan leadership on this important legislation. By working across the aisle, we can help make a difference right now in the lives of students and families. I encourage the Senate to follow our lead and look forward to continuing this bipartisan effort in the months ahead.

To learn more about H.R. 4984, click here.

To learn more about the effort to reform the Higher Education Act, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/highered/.

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Kline Statement: H.R. 4984, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:00am

Every family knows the cost of pursuing a higher education is out of control. It’s felt intensely each and every day by countless Americans; by parents who worry how they will put their kids through college; by students who fear they will be left with a pile of debt and no job prospects; by working men and women who hope a degree will let them reach the next rung on the economic ladder.

We know that solutions to the college cost crisis must ultimately come from states and institutions. But there are things Congress can do right now to keep the dream of a postsecondary education within reach.

Helping students find the right institution is one way we can make a difference. Yesterday the House passed with strong bipartisan support the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. The legislation will arm students with the best information available in a format that is easy to understand, information that includes key facts such as an institution’s costs, completion rates, and student loan debt.

Students and families currently face a tsunami of information that is mostly confusing, conflicting, and unnecessary. The bill streamlines the information and how it is delivered, enabling students to be smart shoppers in the college marketplace.

However, picking an institution is only half the challenge. Families then have to figure out how to pay for it, and far too many are unprepared to make those tough decisions. Some students choose loans and debt when other assistance in the form of grants and scholarships are readily available. And those that do opt for student loans often have no real concept of what they’re getting into or what it means for their future.

Clearly current policies promoting financial literacy are coming up short. That is why I am pleased to support the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. The bipartisan legislation includes a series of reforms that will help students and families make wise financial decisions about their postsecondary education.

For example, the bill ensures borrowers – both students and parents – receive annual counseling that reflects their personal situations and requires consent each year before receiving a federal loan. The legislation also makes sure low-income individuals who rely on Pell Grants are informed about the terms and conditions of their grant.

The bill also delivers more robust counseling upon graduation, requiring that information on a borrower’s loan balance and anticipated monthly payments be provided. Finally, the legislation directs the Secretary of Education to maintain a consumer-tested, online counseling tool that will help institutions put this important information into the hands of those who need it.

This legislation is part of a broader effort to strengthen our nation’s higher education. Neither this bill nor the bills passed earlier this week are a silver bullet to challenges we face. However, by working together, we can begin to make a difference in the lives of students and families. That is precisely what the House is doing.

I want to thank the bipartisan authors of the legislation, Representatives Brett Guthrie, Richard Hudson, and Suzanne Bonamici. I urge my colleagues to support the bill and reserve the balance of my time.

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Kline Statement: H.R. 5076, the Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00am

Each year an estimated 300,000 innocent children fall victim to sex trafficking right here in the United States. The victims can be homeless or runaway youth; others are simply taken from their parents in the blink of an eye. The victims’ families are our neighbors, friends, and loved ones.

As a father of two and grandfather of four, for me it is impossible to fathom the pain and suffering they must feel, knowing their son or daughter is trapped in a modern-day slave trade filled with darkness and hopelessness. While we will never fully comprehend the grief these families are forced to bear, we can as a nation fight this heinous crime with every tool available.

There are heroic efforts underway right now to locate victims of youth sex trafficking and return them to their families. Last week, the Education and the Workforce Committee had an opportunity to hear from John Ryan, head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The center plays a vital role in a national effort to protect vulnerable youth, leading a partnership among law enforcement, government agencies, and private ventures like Honeywell, Google, and Lifetouch.

In my home state of Minnesota, the center has helped resolve cases involving 1,699 endangered runaways and 373 family abductions. The center’s 24-hour CyberTipline has provided law enforcement more than two million leads of child sexual exploitation.

The center and its staff provide an invaluable service to families; they stand on the front lines of this critical battle each and every day. Despite these and other achievements, we know more can be done to protect our most vulnerable youth.

Right now many kids are falling through the cracks of child welfare systems. Often they are not properly identified as sex trafficking victims when they enter the system and are then lost in the shuffle once they are in state custody. And too often runaway and homeless youth who are victims of sex trafficking do not receive the special help they need.

That is why I strongly support this legislation, which will enhance existing services for runaway and homeless youth. I am also proud to support legislation we will consider in just a few moments that will improve how state child welfare systems identify and respond to victims of youth sex trafficking. Finally, we will also consider legislation that ensures victims are properly identified when reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline.

Mister Speaker, we have to do more to address this national crisis. The bills the House is considering today move our country in the right direction. I am humbled to help lead this bipartisan effort and urge my colleagues to support the legislation.

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Video Release: Kline Urges Support for Victims of Youth Trafficking

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00am
The House of Representatives today debated bipartisan legislation to strengthen support for victims of youth sex trafficking. The proposals would enhance existing aid for runaway and homeless youth and improve identification and assessment of child sex trafficking victims. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) discussed the urgent need to assist victims of youth sex trafficking: 

 

Each year an estimated 300,000 innocent children fall victim to sex trafficking right here in the United States. The victims can be homeless or runaway youth; others are simply taken from their parents in the blink of an eye. The victims’ families are our neighbors, friends, and loved ones.

As a father of two and grandfather of four, for me it is impossible to fathom the pain and suffering they must feel, knowing their son or daughter is trapped in a modern-day slave trade filled with darkness and hopelessness. While we will never fully comprehend the grief these families are forced to bear, we can as a nation fight this heinous crime with every tool available.

To read Chairman Kline’s full remarks, click here.

To learn more about bipartisan efforts to strengthen support for victims of youth sex trafficking, click here.

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House Passes Legislation to Support Innovation, Strengthen Transparency in Higher Education

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00am
The House of Representatives today approved two bipartisan legislative proposals that will spur innovation and strengthen transparency in higher education. The bills are part of a broader effort to improve postsecondary education through reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

“I am pleased the House has advanced bipartisan reforms to strengthen our nation’s higher education system,” said House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “Over the last several weeks, we’ve worked to find areas of common ground that would help more Americans realize the dream of a postsecondary education. By supporting innovation and strengthening transparency, these legislative efforts will make a difference in the lives of students and families. I urge our Senate colleagues to send these bipartisan bills to the president’s desk without delay.”

Authored by Representative Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and cosponsored by Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO), the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act (H.R. 3136):
  • Promotes innovation in higher education by directing the secretary of education to implement competency-based education demonstration projects.
                                                                                                
  • Provides accountability by requiring an annual evaluation of each demonstration project to determine program quality.
                                                                                              
  • Delivers greater flexibility to institutions that want to provide students a more personalized, cost-effective education.

H.R. 3136 passed the House by a vote of 414 to 0. To learn more about the bill, click here

Authored by Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and cosponsored by Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and John Kline (R-MN), the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4983)

  • Requires the secretary of education to create a consumer-tested College Dashboard that would display key information students need when deciding which school to attend.
                                  
  • Instructs the secretary to provide a link to the page of each institution listed on a student’s FAFSA to make sure students know this information is available.
            
  • Streamlines and eliminates unnecessary information and federal transparency initiatives.

H.R. 4983 passed the House by voice vote. To learn more about the bill, click here.

Earlier today, the House also passed legislation (H.R. 5134) introduced by Rep. Foxx that would extend the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity and the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance for one year.

To learn more about the committee’s effort to reform the Higher Education Act, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/highered/ 

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Kline Statement: H.R. 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00am

Across the country, millions of college students are getting ready to start the school year. They will soon say goodbye to family and friends and pursue their dream of a postsecondary education. Unfortunately, many Americans are struggling to turn that dream into reality.

The higher education system we know today is too costly, too bureaucratic, and outdated. Some are having a hard time fitting the traditional college experience into a busy lifestyle that already includes work, family, or both. Others are graduating with a pile of debt and no job prospects.

A college degree can open the door to a bright and prosperous future, yet too often obstacles stand in the way. Ultimately states and institutions must provide the answers students and families need, but Congress has a role to play as well.

First and foremost, we need to continue promoting policies that will get this economy moving again, so every college graduate who wants a job can find a job. We can also adopt commonsense reforms that will improve our higher education system.

Today the House will begin to do just that. We have an opportunity right now to advance reforms that will support innovation and empower students to make informed decisions about their college careers. H.R. 3136 is the first step in that effort.

The bipartisan Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act will allow institutions to expand an innovative approach to higher education, known as competency-based education.

This model of education defines a set of skills for a field of work and then measures student progress in acquiring those skills. Once a student demonstrates a level of skill or competency, he or she can move to the next step in the academic program.

Instead of awarding a student credit hours for time spent in class, competency-based education allows a student to learn at a pace tailored to his or her specific needs. If you’re a single mom, you may need more time to complete your degree while juggling the demands of work and kids. Or if you’re a dad out of a job with a family to support, four years sitting in a classroom is time you do not have.

Competency-based education holds tremendous promise. It allows students to earn a degree in less time and even at a lower cost than in a traditional education setting. Yet it is difficult for institutions to expand this innovative model under a system that values time over learning.

H.R. 3136 will help us move in a different direction. The legislation directs the secretary of education to authorize a number of demonstration projects to test and strengthen competency-based education.

Among other provisions, the legislation requires the secretary to focus on programs that are designed to reduce costs and the time it takes to earn a degree. The bill requires a thorough evaluation of each demonstration project so policymakers learn which programs demonstrate success and what specific roadblocks are standing in the way.

Mister Speaker, this is a good bill that will help make a difference in the lives of students and families. I want to thank the bipartisan authors of the legislation, Representatives Matt Salmon, Jared Polis, and Susan Brooks. I urge my colleagues to support the bill and reserve the balance of my time.

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Walberg Statement: Hearing on Improving the Federal Wage and Hour Regulatory Structure

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00am

For more than 75 years, the Fair Labor Standards Act has provided America’s workforce with crucial federal wage and hour protections. Every day the vast majority of employers do their part to ensure workers enjoy these vital protections. Unfortunately, that is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge.

The current rules and regulations surrounding the law are exceptionally complex and outdated. Too often a maze of confusing regulatory requirements promotes the interests of trial lawyers, rather than working families. A report issued by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office reveals a broken regulatory structure that fosters unnecessary and costly litigation.

According to the report, “The number of FLSA lawsuits filed nationwide in federal district courts has increased substantially, with most of this increase occurring in the last decade.” The GAO report continues, “Since 1991, the number of FLSA lawsuits filed has increased by 514 percent, with a total of 8,148 FLSA lawsuits filed in fiscal year 2012.” A more than 500 percent increase in litigation during the last two decades; clearly something isn’t right.

You would think employers are engaged in some coordinated national conspiracy to deny workers their rights. The truth is the vast majority of employers want to do the right thing and follow the law, but too often they unknowingly step into a regulatory trap. Even the Department of Labor has run afoul of wage and hour regulations and they are responsible for writing the rules and enforcing the law.

As litigation has increased, the number of guidance documents issued by the department has sharply declined. Between 2001 and 2009, the department released an average of 37 guidance documents each year. Yet in the last three years, the Obama administration has issued a total of seven – just seven during the last three years.

As the GAO notes, improving guidance “could increase the efficiency and effectiveness of [the department’s] efforts to help employers voluntarily comply with the law.” What’s the harm in assisting employers in understanding their legal responsibilities? Why wouldn’t we want to help employers understand their obligations, so they can stop spending time inside a courtroom and instead invest their resources into growing a successful business and creating jobs?

We’ve heard a lot in recent months and years about executive authority. We are told this is supposed to be a so-called year of action. Too often these actions stretch the limits of the law and even our Constitution. Yet when it comes to using a pen and phone to help employers understand a complex and confusing regulatory scheme, the Department of Labor can’t be bothered.

Earlier this year, the president issued an executive memorandum directing the secretary of labor to revise federal wage and hour regulations. There is obviously some agreement the rules are outdated and need to be improved. At that time, Chairman Kline and I said that if the president was beginning a sincere attempt to modernize current regulations, then the committee would support such an effort.

In fact, we hope we can be a partner in that effort and today’s hearing should certainly inform that work. We need responsible change that will bring these rules into the 21st century, while also safeguarding worker protections. The committee stands ready to assist, but more can be done to help employers comply with the law. The department has a job to do and we hope this government accountability report will encourage the agency to get to work.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Subcommittee to Examine Regulatory Structure of Federal Wage and Hour Law

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:00am

On Wednesday, July 23 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), will hold a hearing entitled, “Improving the Federal Wage and Hour Regulatory Structure.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets forth federal wage and hour protections for public- and private-sector workers. The Department of Labor estimates more than 130 million workers are affected by the law. A patchwork of conflicting interpretations and a complex regulatory structure have created an environment of legal uncertainty among employers and employees. A report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found a significant increase in FLSA-related litigation. The GAO recommended the department develop a systematic approach to identifying areas of confusion and improve administrative guidance for employers and employees. 

Wednesday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine the growth of FLSA-related litigation and current compliance assistance efforts. To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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WITNESS LIST

Ms. Judith Conti
Federal Advocacy Coordinator
National Employment Law Project
Washington, D.C.

The Honorable Paul DeCamp
Shareholder
Jackson Lewis P.C.
Washington, D.C.

Ms. Nancy McKeague
Senior Vice President of Employer and Community Strategies, and Chief Human Resources Officer
Michigan Health and Hospital Association
Okemos, MI
**Testifying on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management**

Dr. Andrew Sherrill
Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security
U.S. Government Accountability Office
Washington, D.C. 

 

President Signs Bipartisan, Bicameral Job Training Reform Agreement

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) released the following statement after President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act:

Today's achievement is the result of a lot of hard work and compromise by Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate. We rejected petty politics and put the best interests of working families first. Now we have a new law that will protect taxpayers and help put more Americans back to work. The American people deserve to see more of these bipartisan accomplishments. It is time to get back to work and find other areas of common ground that will help expand opportunity and prosperity for working families.

To learn more about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, click here.

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Committee Members Examine Efforts to Assist Missing and Exploited Children

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 12:00am

The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), today held a hearing entitled, “Protecting America’s Youth: An Update from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.” During the hearing, Mr. John Ryan, president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), discussed the center’s ongoing work to protect children and return victims to their families.

Mr. Ryan noted, “NCMEC’s success is a testament to Congress’ unwavering commitment to the work NCMEC does, and in particular to this committee’s support as we continue expanding our public-private partnerships to help protect children from abduction and exploitation and introduce new prevention initiatives to educate parents, teachers and communities on how to keep children safer.”

“The only way to describe the work of NCMEC’s staff is heroic,” said Rep. Rokita. “They are making a difference in the lives of countless children and families. Protecting children has been and must remain a national priority. Mr. Ryan and his staff are to be commended for their hard work and dedication.”

Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) echoed those sentiments: “The center and its staff provide an invaluable service to families each and every day. Despite its impressive achievements, we must do more to protect the nation's most vulnerable youth. Toward that end, I am hopeful we will move forward with bipartisan legislation to strengthen support for victims of youth sex trafficking. These efforts, as well as the continued work of NCMEC, will help provide vulnerable youth the assistance they desperately need.”

Throughout this morning’s hearing, members emphasized the need for continued congressional support of NCMEC and bipartisan efforts to  protect vulnerable youth:

Rep. Phil Roe (T-TN)

With our human trafficking bills that Congress passed in a bipartisan way just a few weeks ago, it really helped educate me about the enormity of this problem… if you’re not really paying attention, and if you don’t know what to pay attention to, someone could be right there in front of you, carrying on an apparently normal life and they’re not carrying on a normal life.

Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN)

As a U.S. Attorney, I had the opportunity to tour [NCMEC] and was very involved in our Internet crimes against children taskforce…thank you so much for your incredible help, I’m interested in learning whether there are any legal impediments that you have in working even closer with law enforcement.

Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA)

One of our most crucial missions [is] keeping our children safe and I appreciate your work. I was pleased to learn of your initiative ‘Safe To Compete,’ which raises awareness of child athletes’ sexual abuse and provides training and preparedness opportunities.

Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY)

[NCMEC reauthorization] shows that when we find common ground in the House and the Senate, we can work together. Senator Leahy (R-VT) and I were the primary sponsors of your reauthorization, and I came to tour [NCMEC], which I recommend to all of my colleagues...The techniques you have to go through to find missing children is certainly a skill and an ability and something needed.

To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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Rokita Statement: Hearing on "Protecting America’s Youth: An Update from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 12:00am

We are pleased to hear today from Mr. John Ryan, the president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or NCMEC. Mr. Ryan will give us an update on NCMEC’s important work and how a number of legislative changes enacted last year are enhancing the efforts of this organization.

At a ceremony opening the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, President Ronald Reagan said, “All Americans, and especially our youth, should have the right and the opportunity to walk our streets, to play and to grow and to live their lives without being at risk.” Spoken 30 years ago, President Reagan’s words are just as true now as they were back then.

If we are truly fighting for all people, so that they can build better lives for themselves and their families, one of the key things we must help them with is the safety of their children.

No child should be afraid to walk home from school, hang out with friends at the mall, or surf the Internet. Yet sadly we know that’s just not the case. Too often a predator is lurking in the shadows, ready to do harm. Each year thousands of children go missing or fall victim to sexual exploitation and other heinous crimes. As the father of two young boys, I cannot fathom the pain and suffering these families are forced to bear. No one can, but we can do something about it.

For 30 years a national public-private partnership has worked to protect children and safely return victims to their families. NCMEC is at this center of this vital effort. The organization provides services, resources, and other assistance to victims of abduction and sexual exploitation, as well as their families and those who serve them.

The center’s 24-hour Cyber Tipline has provided law enforcement with more than 2.3 million leads of suspected child sexual exploitation. On its own this would constitute a stellar record, but the tip line is only one part of a larger effort. The center also manages a national database on missing children, organizes case management teams to serve as a single point of contact for families, and offers training and technical assistance to law enforcement and professionals working in health care and the juvenile justice system.

These are just a few of the services and support provided each and every day. The only way to describe the work of NCMEC’s staff is heroic; they are making a difference in the lives of countless children and families. In fact, just this year, in partnership with the FBI and Department of Justice, NCMEC participated in Operation Cross Country VIII. This week-long national campaign led to the arrest of 281 child traffickers and the rescue of 168 children – besting its work from the prior year.

However, we all know that despite these achievements, more work needs to be done. To help support that effort, last year Congress passed the E. Clay Shaw, Jr. Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act. Enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support, the legislation extended our partnership with NCMEC while providing additional accountability and oversight protections. The law also includes reforms to encourage greater coordination between law enforcement, states, and schools.

As one of many partners, Congress cannot stop there. There is more that can and should be done on behalf of these vulnerable youth. Toward that end, a number of important legislative proposals were introduced that will help strengthen our commitment to youth who are victims of sex trafficking. While no legislation can provide a perfect solution, the bills put forward last week will move our country in the right direction.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** TOMORROW: Subcommittee to Examine Efforts to Assist Missing and Exploited Children

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 12:00am

On Tuesday, July 15 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), will hold a hearing entitled, "Protecting America’s Youth: An Update from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children." The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Since 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has helped lead a coordinated national effort to assist children who are missing or victims of violent crimes. Authorized under the Missing Children’s Assistance Act, NCMEC has referred for investigation more than two million reports of crimes against children. In 2013, Congress reauthorized the law to ensure NCMEC continues its important work, while also strengthening taxpayer protections through enhanced accountability and oversight. Congress also included reforms to foster greater coordination between law enforcement and states, districts, and schools in their efforts to recover missing children, specifically those who are victims of child sex trafficking.

Tuesday’s hearing will provide members the opportunity to examine NCMEC’s ongoing work and implementation of recent legislative changes. To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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WITNESS LIST

Mr. John D. Ryan
President and CEO
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Alexandria, Virginia

Kline Statement on PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after it was announced Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Director Josh Gotbaum would step down: 

Director Gotbaum is to be commended for his years of dedicated service and unwavering commitment to workers and retirees. His departure comes at a critical time for the agency and those who participate in the multiemployer pension system. I urge the president to move quickly to find a qualified nominee to lead this important agency, and wish Josh and his family the best. 

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Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Strengthen Support for Victims of Youth Sex Trafficking

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 12:00am

A bipartisan group of House members today introduced legislation that would strengthen support for youth who are victims of sex trafficking. The proposed bills would improve identification and assessment of child sex trafficking victims and enhance existing support for runaway and homeless youth.

“Every year thousands of children are victims of sex trafficking,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “We have to do more to address this national crisis. There is no reason why we shouldn’t fix outdated policies that make it harder to identify and serve these vulnerable youth. The bipartisan legislative proposals introduced today will help prevent victims from falling through the cracks and strengthen the support they need. I want to thank my colleagues for their leadership on this critical issue. More must be done and today’s effort is a step in the right direction.” 

It is estimated that each year 300,000 children become victims of sex trafficking. Many of these children were once involved in a state child welfare system, yet their experience with sexual exploitation may go undetected. Members are introducing bipartisan legislation that will enhance support services for victims and improve the child welfare response to trafficking: 

  • Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking. Introduced by Reps. Joe Heck (R-NV), John Kline (R-MN), and Bobby Scott (D-VA), the legislation (H.R. 5076) will improve support provided specifically to runaway and homeless youth who are victims of sex trafficking. 

  • Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2014. Introduced by Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), John Kline (R-MN), Tom Marino (R-PA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the legislation (H.R. 5081) will improve practices within state child welfare systems to identify and document sex trafficking victims.  

The bipartisan leaders of this effort praised today’s action:

Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV) – “We have a moral obligation to care for victims of sex trafficking, especially vulnerable children. By passing a simple fix to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act we can ensure that those suffering from the trauma of these deplorable acts will have access to the care and support they need.”

Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) – “We absolutely must confront the reality that girls in our foster care system are being recruited and pipelined into sex trafficking. And, unfortunately, far too often, those responsible for protecting our children fail to properly identify and assist trafficked and exploited children,” said Rep. Bass. “This bi-partisan and commonsense legislation will make sure that state child welfare agencies have the policies and training to combat sex trafficking so that our foster care system is protecting children.”

Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) – "In order to ensure that victims of trafficking receive the support they need, we must provide additional support to states, organizations and other entities to train the staff working with these victims. This training allows service providers to successfully address and respond to the behavioral and emotional effects of abuse and assault. Our bill ensures that staff training will also include ways to recognize and respond to the unique needs and circumstances of trafficking victims. It is a simple change, but an important one necessary to improve the services available. It is my hope that we can continue this spirit of bipartisanship and work together to improve and strengthen programs that support our nation's children."  

To learn more about the legislative proposals, click here.

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Chairmen Urge Labor Secretary Perez To Reverse Davis-Bacon Decision

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) today joined Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) and Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) to urge Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to reverse the department’s decision to unilaterally extend the Davis-Bacon Act requirements to survey technicians due to inadequate analysis and outreach to industry stakeholders.

Kline, Graves, and Walberg wrote in a letter to Perez:

When the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued AAM No. 212 along with a guidance letter on March 22, 2013, survey technicians were included under Davis-Bacon for the first time in the act’s history. For over 50 years, both Republican and Democrat administrations have consistently excluded survey technicians from Davis-Bacon requirements.

However, after receiving unsolicited input from the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the department proceeded to make this unprecedented policy change based solely on the information from the IUOE without consulting any other stakeholders. To make matters worse, the department made this change through an agency memorandum, rather than the public rulemaking process. The department’s action in this case has resulted in confusion as to what work is covered by the memorandum and when the change in policy officially began.

In 2013, Graves, Kline and Walberg wrote a letter requesting documents and communications concerning its decision to overturn decades of policy and apply Davis-Bacon wage requirements to survey technicians. The department’s response was significantly delayed and failed to provide all the documents and communications that were requested. The response did reveal that only the IUOE was consulted during the nearly two years the department considered the change.  As Kline, Graves, and Walberg continued in today’s letter:

Based on the most recent documents provided to the committee, it is clear the department worked exclusively with the IUOE to make this significant policy change. The entire process appears to have started on May 4, 2011, when an assistant for William Waggoner, Business Manager, IUOE Local 12, contacted the department stating that Mr. Waggoner had discussed this issue with then-Secretary Solis at a luncheon and would like to meet in Washington, D.C. to discuss the matter.  

To read the full letter, click here.

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Committee Advances Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Higher Education System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 12:00am
The House Education and the Workforce Committee today advanced three bipartisan bills to reform the nation’s higher education system. As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the legislative proposals will support innovation, strengthen transparency, and enhance financial counseling.

“Today we made important progress in our effort to strengthen the nation’s higher education system,” said Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “These bipartisan proposals will make a difference in the lives of students and families. My colleagues are to be commended for their hard work in making this a strong bipartisan endeavor. I look forward to House consideration of these proposals and the work that lies ahead.”

The approved bills reflect a number of key committee principles guiding the reauthorization process.

  • Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act. Introduced by Reps.  Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Jared Polis (D-CO), the bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3136) will provide students new opportunities to receive a high-quality education in a way that best serves their personal and financial needs.
    • The committee approved the bill by voice vote.
    • To learn more about the legislation, click here.
    • To read the bill text as approved by the committee, click here.
  • Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. Introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Luke Messer (R-IN), H.R. 4983 will help students gain access to the facts they need to make an informed decision about their education.
    • The committee approved the bill by voice vote.
    • To learn more about the legislation, click here.
    • To read the bill text as approved by the committee, click here
  • Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. Introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), H.R. 4984 will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid.
    • The committee approved the bill by voice vote.
    • To learn more about the legislation, click here.
    • To read the bill text as approved by the committee, click here.

To learn more about the committee’s effort to reform the Higher Education Act, visit

http://edworkforce.house.gov/highered/

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Kline Statement: Markup of H.R. 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act, H.R. 4983, the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, and H.R. 4984, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 12:00am

Today the committee will consider a number of legislative proposals as part of its continued effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

A report released last month confirms once again the value of receiving a postsecondary education. Researchers at the New York Federal Reserve asked whether the benefits of college still outweigh the costs and their answer was a resounding “yes.” The researchers write that “for the average student, a college degree remains a good investment.”

Unfortunately, too many Americans are struggling to turn the dream of a postsecondary education into reality. For some the cost associated with earning a degree is simply too great. Others have a hard time fitting the traditional college experience into a busy lifestyle that may already include family, work, or both. And students that do graduate often struggle to launch their careers with a pile of debt in a weak economy.

We've said time and again that the answers to many of these challenges must ultimately come from states and institutions. States should maintain a robust commitment to higher education and promote policies that make it easier for schools to fulfill their mission. Institutions must be good stewards of the tuition dollars they receive and ensure students graduate with a valuable degree in hand.

However, as federal policymakers, we have a role to play as well. Improving our higher education system is a national priority, which is why we’ve made reauthorizing the Higher Education Act a leading committee priority. Over the last several years, the committee has convened 14 public hearings, examined the testimony of dozens of witnesses, and engaged in a bipartisan effort to gather public feedback on ways to strengthen the law.

It’s been a long process, but one that was highly informative. As a result of what we’ve learned, we put forward a series of principles to help guide the next steps of the reauthorization process. But these are more than just principles; they reflect the responsibilities we bear and the work that lies ahead.

First, we need to empower students and families to make informed decisions. Students and families should be able to access the best information in a format that is easy to understand, enabling them to make smart, more informed decisions about their education.

Second, we need to simplify and improve student aid. It’s time to pull students and families out of the maze of programs that foster confusion and uncertainty by streamlining federal aid. Doing so will help students receive a clearer picture of the assistance they will receive in a more timely manner.

Third, we need to promote innovation, access, and completion. Innovation is the key to giving families more affordable choices in higher education, especially at a time when contemporary students are dominating college campuses. Programs that encourage access need to be strengthened and we have to find ways to make sure students actually complete their college education.

Fourth, we need to provide strong accountability while maintaining a limited federal role. Protecting the taxpayers’ investment is one of our top concerns, but we should also be mindful that federal rules and reporting requirements create administrative costs and those costs are often passed on to students in the form of higher fees and tuition. We need to strike the right balance between providing strong accountability and responsible federal oversight.

These principles provide the best path forward to strengthen America’s higher education system, and the legislative proposals before us today will begin to turn these principles into concrete solutions. Today we have an opportunity to encourage more innovation, enhance transparency, and help students make wise financial decisions. All in all that is a good day’s work.

I want to thank my colleagues – both Republican and Democrat – for their hard work on these important issues. I also would like to thank my colleague, George Miller, and his staff for helping to make this meeting a bipartisan endeavor.

Finally, let me just note that today is one step in a larger process to reform the Higher Education Act. No doubt there is some skepticism about moving forward in what might be described as a piece-meal approach, but remember these are complicated issues. A step-by-step approach will better inform members and the public about the policies we are pursuing.

And just as important, this approach will also allow us to move the ball forward starting now. Let’s make progress where we can and begin to strengthen American higher education today.

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Overhaul of America’s Job Training Programs Headed to President’s Desk Following Strong Bipartisan Support from Congress

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 6:00pm
Legislation to update the Workforce Investment Act, overdue for reauthorization for more than a decade, is headed to the President’s desk following overwhelming bipartisan support from both houses of Congress. The Senate and House authors of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) applauded the passage of the bill, which seeks to update and improve the nation’s workforce development system. The legislation was approved today by a vote of 415 to 6 by the House of Representatives; it was approved by the Senate last month by a vote of 95 to 3 and will be signed into law by President Obama.
 
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act modernizes and improves existing federal workforce development programs, helps workers attain skills for 21st century jobs, provides supports to people with disabilities to enter and remain in competitive, integrated job settings, and fosters the modern workforce that evolving American businesses rely on to compete. In addition to winning strong bipartisan support in both chambers, the bill is supported by a broad array of labor, business, workforce development leaders, and disability advocates, as well as governors and mayors from around the country. 

“Today is a good day for the American people. We’ve shown what’s possible when we work together toward a common goal and right now there is no greater goal than putting Americans back to work,” said Representative John Kline, Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “This bipartisan, bicameral agreement will fix a broken job training system, help workers fill in-demand jobs, and protect taxpayers. I am proud to have helped lead this effort and want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate for their hard work. Let’s build off today’s achievement and continue working together on behalf of the American people.”

“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act modernizes our workforce development system to ensure that all our workers can prepare for and fill 21st century jobs, including individuals with disabilities. It also makes groundbreaking changes that will raise prospects and expectations for Americans with disabilities so that they receive the skills and training necessary to succeed in competitive, integrated employment,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “Access to education, training, and employment services is critical to helping our workers secure good jobs, gain access to the middle class, and become economically self-sufficient, and this bill is part of the solution to the challenges facing our middle class. This bill represents the best of what Congress can accomplish when we work together and I urge President Obama to sign it into law as soon as possible.”
 
"Last year the federal government spent more than $145 million in Tennessee through a maze of programs trying to help Tennesseans find jobs, and this legislation simplifies that maze. This bill will help our nation’s workers gain the skills to find jobs and give governors and local workforce boards the freedom and flexibility to make job training meet their local needs,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee.
 
“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will update and improve our workforce training programs by aligning them with real-world labor market needs. This legislation will better connect job training programs with the needs of local employers, helping workers to learn the most in-demand skills and to be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Representative George Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “I want to commend all my colleagues, and particularly Reps. Tierney and Hinojosa, for their commitment to and leadership on strengthening our nation’s workforce development system. For forty years, we have reauthorized these programs through bipartisan collaboration, and I am happy to see that tradition continue.”
 
“After receiving overwhelming, bipartisan support in the Senate, today’s vote in the House goes to show that both chambers of Congress are still capable of breaking through the gridlock and investing in American workers and the economy,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I’ve seen firsthand that federal workforce programs can change lives, boost our economy, and get people back to work, but we can’t expect to adequately train Americans for jobs at Boeing or Microsoft with programs designed in the 1990s. Today, we can definitively say that both chambers of Congress agree, and I’m thrilled that this long overdue legislation is now headed for the President’s desk to become law.”
 
“Today’s vote is the culmination of a long process of legislating the old fashioned way: discussion, negotiation and compromise.  There is longstanding, bipartisan agreement that the current workforce development system is broken, and this bill turns that consensus into action,” said Representative Virginia Foxx. “The bipartisan, bicameral process through which The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was developed serves as an example of what we can accomplish when we work together.  This legislation is important for the millions of Americans who are looking for work and for the employers who have 4.6 million job opportunities that remain unfilled due to the skills gap.  Closing this gap will specifically improve the lives of many American job seekers, while generally helping our economy grow. I urge the President to sign this legislation without delay.”
 
“Workforce training is critically important to help grow the American economy still recovering from recession and bridge the widening skills gap separating thousands of unemployed workers from promising careers in 21st century workplaces,” said Senator Johnny Isakson. “The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will provide millions of Americans the opportunity to receive the training and skills necessary to find a job and keep a job. I am extremely pleased that my colleagues in the House acted today to pass this bipartisan measure with overwhelming support, and I urge the president to swiftly sign this bill into law so we can continue making critical investments in American workers to meet the modern demands of businesses in a global environment.”
 
“I am pleased to see the bipartisan support as well as the overwhelming support from business groups, labor unions, state and local elected officials, community colleges, workforce boards, adult education providers, youth organizations, and civil rights groups for this bill,” said Representative Rubén Hinojosa. “In my district in South Texas we have seen how these programs are successful in training our workforce and getting our residents back into good paying jobs. Importantly, this bill includes several key provisions from ‘The Adult Education and Economic Growth Act,’ which I introduced. In the area of adult education, this bill integrates adult education and workplace skills, authorizes the integrated English Literacy and Civics education program for Adult learners, and expands access to postsecondary education.”
 
WIOA represents a compromise between the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803), which passed the House of Representatives in March of 2013 with bipartisan support, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), which passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee with a bipartisan vote of 18-3 in July of 2013.  A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here. The statement of managers, including a section-by-section summary of the legislation, can be found here. A summary of key improvements WIOA makes to current workforce development programs can be found here.  A full list of WIOA supporters can be found here.

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