House Education & Workforce Committee

What They're Saying: Business and Union Leaders Support Bipartisan Agreement to Reform Multiemployer Pensions

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

Letters of support are pouring in for the bipartisan agreement to reform multiemployer pensions. Released by House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), the proposal includes reforms to provide trustees with new tools to save troubled plans, while protecting taxpayers. See what business and union leaders are saying in support of this bipartisan agreement:

"The bi-partisan proposal developed by the Education and Workforce Committee will modify the expiring Pension Protection Act (PPA) and give plan trustees the tools they need to strengthen their plans. This proposal helps troubled plans avoid insolvency, puts the plans recovering from the economic downturn on firmer ground, and helps those plans – and retirees – that are most in trouble avoid losing everything." – North America’s Building Trades Unions

"I urge you to support the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 as it follows the “Solutions Not Bailouts” proposal that was a private sector, joint labor-management proposal to solve the multiemployer pension system failures and avoid a federal bailout. The legislation will provide modifications to the PPA that will strengthen plans’ funding positions and ensure long-term retirement security." – Associated General Contractors of America

"The Kline-Miller legislation protects pensions, retirees, and taxpayers. It is the only reform that accomplishes all of these important objectives." – The Association of Food and Dairy Retailers, Wholesalers and Manufacturers, Aramark, Bimbo Bakeries, ConAgra Foods, Dairy Farmers of America, Dean Foods, Kellog’s, Kroger

'Workers and their employers have used and exhausted all the tools at their disposal to strengthen their plans on their own. Some have even increased worker and employer contributions and accepted reduced benefits to preserve these pensions … We are simply asking Congress to give multiemployer pension plans the tools they need to modernize, continue to provide benefits, and in some cases, avoid insolvency." – United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America

"This bipartisan agreement follows three years of hard work, hearings, events and negotiations between employers and unions, and members of Congress. It is absolutely essential legislation to allow the private sector to resolve the multiemployer pension crisis without government involvement." – The Kroger Co. 

"While imperfect, SEIU supports this legislation because it will help preserve and protect the multiemployer defined benefit pension system for our members and all of the system’s participants for years to come. Failure to pass this legislation now will jeopardize the future of this system, and will increase the eventual cost for our members, our employers, and potentially for taxpayers." – Service Employees International Union 

"If Congress enacts the bipartisan Kline-Miller legislation, it will allow critically underfunded multiemployer pension plans to engage in self-help to save themselves from insolvency, at no cost to taxpayers. It will protect plan participants from larger benefit cuts in the future; avert large contribution increases that will result in employer bankruptcies; prevent the loss of thousands of jobs; and greatly minimize inevitable calls for a PBGC bailout." – ArcBest Corporation

"Our seniors are looking to Congress for common sense, bipartisan pension reform that protects as many multiemployer plans as possible. The Kline-Miller compromise, while not perfect, achieves that goal. The UFCW strongly urges you to include these reforms in the year-end spending bill without further delay." – United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

"It is absolutely critical that we move forward with legislation to address the challenges facing these plans so that we can continue to provide the hardworking men and women who make America strong with benefits that allow them to retire with dignity." – United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada

"Pension trustees have run out of options. They have used and exhausted the policy tools at their disposal. Many have increased worker and employer contributions. A large number have reduced pension accrual rates, in addition to other painful policy steps. The International Union of Operating Engineers strongly believes that Congress must take these essential steps to strengthen the multiemployer pension system." -  International  Union of Operating Engineers

"The bipartisan proposal developed by the Education and the Workforce Committee will modify the expiring Pension Protection Act (PPA) and give plan trustees the tools they need to strengthen their plans." – International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

"The National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) strongly supports the bipartisan agreement between Chairman John Kline and Ranking Member George Miller of the House Education and Workforce Committee to reform the multiemployer pension system and implement key provisions of the Solutions Not Bailouts proposal." – National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans.

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Kline Welcomes New and Returning Committee Members

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:00am
U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) today announced Republican members who will serve on the committee in the 114th Congress.
 

"I am delighted to have the privilege of serving on the Education and the Workforce Committee with such a dedicated and principled group of men and women,” said Chairman Kline. “The American people expect Congress to advance commonsense reforms that will help strengthen our nation’s classrooms and workplaces. The new and returning Republican members of the committee will all play pivotal roles in that effort, and I look forward to working with them next Congress.”

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Republican Committee Members for the 114th Congress:

• Rep. John Kline (MN-2)*
• Rep. Joe Wilson
(SC-2)*
• Rep. Virginia Foxx
(NC-5)*
• Rep. Duncan Hunter
(CA-50)*
• Rep. Phil Roe
(TN-1)*
• Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson
(PA-5)*
• Rep. Tim Walberg
(MI-7)*
• Rep. Matt Salmon
(AZ-5)*
• Rep. Brett Guthrie
(KY-2)*
• Rep. Todd Rokita
(IN-4)*
• Rep. Lou Barletta
(PA-11)*
• Rep. Joe Heck
(NV-3)*
• Rep. Luke Messer
(IN-6)*
• Rep. Bradley Byrne
(AL-1)*
• Rep. Dave Brat
(VA-7)
Rep. – elect Buddy Carter (GA-1)
Rep. – elect Mike Bishop (MI-8)
Rep. – elect Glenn Grothman (WI-6)
Rep. – elect Steve Russell (OK-5)
Rep. – elect Carlos Curbelo (FL-26)
Rep. – elect Elise Stefanik (NY-21)
Rep. – elect Rick Allen (GA-12)

NOTE: Additional membership and organizational changes may be announced at a later time.

* Indicates prior service on the committee.

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ObamaCare 2.0: Same Old Headaches for Nation's Classrooms

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 12:00am
The second year of the ObamaCare open enrollment season has begun and Americans are more displeased than ever with the president’s health care law. Schools, in particular, continue to feel the law’s negative effects, from increased costs to diminished services. In Louisiana, administrators are being forced to cut staff hours to keep their schools afloat and their students in the classroom:

Worries about running afoul of the Affordable Care Act — also known as “Obamacare” — have forced officials in Ascension Parish to turn the hunt for substitute teachers to a staffing agency to track hours and avoid federal penalties ... "This is really, really a major concern,” said Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association.

The uproar in education circles, as well as other industries nationwide, stems from a part of the law that requires employers to offer health insurance coverage to part-time workers who are employed 30 hours or more per week, or face federal fines of up to $2,000 per person. Superintendents said such coverage is a huge expense for school districts still reeling from five years of a near freeze in state aid for public schools. “Given the cost of benefits, that would be an unbelievable drain on school systems,” [superintendent, Ascension Parish school system] Pujol said.
– The Advocate, ObamaCare Forces Louisiana Public Schools to Scramble for Substitute Teachers

In New Jersey, school districts are even being forced to outsource their substitute teaching:

A school district in New Jersey is planning to outsource substitute teachers in an effort to counter rising costs of the Affordable Care Act. Roanoke City Public Schools in January will start using the New Jersey-based company Source4Teachers to supply it with substitute teachers, substitute aides and substitute clerical workers … Officials said they began research into the outsourcing option due to the Obamacare mandate that, as of Jan. 1, employees working an average of 30 hours or more a week must be offered health insurance. – Newsmax, Obamacare Costs Push NJ School System to Outsource Sub Teachers

As has been said time and again, the nation’s students and teachers deserve better. That’s why the House passed with bipartisan support the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 2575), legislation to restore the 40-hour work week. Another proposal would simply exempt schools from the employer mandate, providing relief from one of the law’s most onerous mandates.

As the committee continues to fight for commonsense health care solutions and investigate the challenges facing schools as a result of the president’s fatally-flawed law, please share #YourStory by visiting www.edworkforce.house.gov/YourStory or e-mailing us at TellYourStory@mail.house.gov.

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Kline Statement on President’s Immigration Announcement

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after President Obama announced his plans to unilaterally change federal immigration laws:

The president's brazen disregard for the rule of law and the constitutional limits of his office continues to divide our nation. To quote the president, this is not how our democracy functions. He has once again put his own political interests before the best interests of the country. The American people made it clear that they want us to end the gridlock and work together. However, this decision will make it even harder to address the challenges facing our classrooms and workplaces. Unless the president changes course, we will lose an opportunity to advance reforms that would make a difference in the lives of students and working families. The president is determined to let that opportunity slip away.

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Kline Selected to Serve as Education & Workforce Committee Chairman in 114th Congress

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:00am
Rep. John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after being selected by his colleagues to serve as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee in the 114th Congress:
 

I am humbled by the opportunity to continue leading this great committee. Significant challenges face our classrooms and workplaces, challenges that have persisted for far too long. Fixing a broken K-12 education system, promoting certainty and flexibility in our nation’s workplaces, and strengthening higher education are all national priorities that will remain at the forefront of the committee’s agenda. The American people want us to end the gridlock and get to work. If the president is willing to engage and the Senate is willing to act, we can advance reforms that will make a difference in the lives of students and working families. I am eager to help lead that effort and look forward to the work that lies ahead.

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Kline, Miller Praise Senate Passage of Bill to Update Child Care Program

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:00am
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), senior Democrat on the committee, praised the Senate’s passage of a bill to improve and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant today.
 

House and Senate leaders negotiated the bipartisan agreement in September, and the House approved the legislation shortly thereafter. The bill will now head to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

“Today we move one step closer to strengthening child care support for millions of families,” said Kline. “The Child Care and Development Block Grant has helped make it possible for countless moms and dads to provide for their families. This bipartisan legislation includes commonsense reforms that will strengthen health and safety protections and improve quality of care. I want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate for their work on this important issue, and urge the president to sign the bill without delay.”

“This is a victory for America’s children and the millions of American families who rely on the Child Care and Development Block Grant,” said Miller. “CCDBG is an indispensable program that benefits both kids and their working parents, but it has long been in need of critical new commitments to improve quality and safety. With approval of this bipartisan bill by the House and now the Senate, we have taken a major step down the path toward increasing access to safe, high-quality child care. That means that more children nationwide will be in environments that foster their healthy growth and development, which will, in turn, grant parents peace of mind while they work to support their families. This legislation will make our nation’s future brighter by helping children succeed and strengthening working families."

Kline Statement on Latest Pension Report

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:00am
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released its FY 2014 Annual Report, which shows the deficit in the agency's multiemployer insurance program has increased from $8.3 billion to $42.4 billion:
 

The multiemployer pension system is a ticking time bomb that will inflict a lot of pain on workers, employers, taxpayers, and retirees if Congress fails to act. Today’s report is a sober reminder that time is running out and should serve as a wakeup call for those few naysayers who believe this is too hard to get done. For months we have tried to reach consensus on a package of reforms that would give trustees new tools to avoid insolvency and protect retirees. The time to enact responsible reforms is now, before the bomb goes off.

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Kline Statement on Education Department's New Waiver Guidance

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after the Department of Education released new waiver guidance:

Last week, the American people sent a message to Washington: End the gridlock and begin addressing the challenges facing our country. It’s looking more and more like the Obama administration has not gotten the message. Our K-12 education system is broken and we’ve learned over the last several years the president’s controversial waiver scheme is not the answer. Instead of changing course, the administration is delivering more arbitrary rules, more regulatory burdens, and more confusion.
 
What we need is for policymakers and stakeholders to work together in crafting a new law. We have an opportunity to enact bold reforms that will help all students access the quality education they need to succeed. The president must decide whether he is willing to seize that opportunity. The House has demonstrated time and again we are ready to get this done, and I am pleased we finally have partners in the Senate willing to join us. It’s time for the president to join us as well.

 
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VIDEO RELEASE: Kline Outlines Education and Workforce Priorities

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 12:00am
Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today outlined broad priorities to help strengthen the nation’s classrooms and workplaces. Chairman Kline discusses in a new video steps Washington must take to support students and working families, such as fixing a broken K-12 education system, improving higher education, and providing job creators more certainty: 

 

If there is one thing we learned last week, it’s that the American people know we need to do better. They know we need education reform that empowers parents and places more control in the hands of teachers and local decision-makers. They know we need to provide employers certainty and flexibility so they can grow their businesses, create new jobs, and give workers the raise they’ve earned. They know we need to work together to help students pursue the dream of an advanced degree without living a nightmare of debt and unemployment. They know we need to continue investing in our classrooms and workplaces, but demand a better return on our investment. These are the priorities most Americans share ...They must be the priorities of Washington starting now.

To watch the video, click here.

To learn more about House efforts to strengthen America’s classrooms and workplaces, click here

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Left Turn: ObamaCare Still Hurting Working Families

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:00am
WASHINGTON, D.C. Billions of dollars wasted on a flawed website. Numerous unilateral actions and administrative delays. And a lot of happy talk. No matter how hard the Obama administration tries, it can’t shield Americans from the devastating consequences of the president’s unpopular health care law. In fact, a new wave of cancellation notices will alert thousands of Americans that the health care plan they like is no longer available – despite the president’s repeated promises to the contrary. As Fox News reports:


More than a dozen states plan to cancel health care policies not in compliance with ObamaCare in the coming weeks, affecting thousands of people just before the midterm elections.

"It looks like several hundred thousand people across the country will receive notices in the coming days and weeks," said Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The policies are being canceled because states that initially granted a reprieve at the request of President Obama are no longer willing to do so.

In coming weeks, 13 states and the District of Columbia plan to cancel such policies, which generally fall out of compliance with the Affordable Care Act because they don’t offer the level of coverage the law requires ...

Many of those forced out of their current plans and into ObamaCare may not be able to keep their doctors. They also could face higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, making ObamaCare an election issue on the eve of voting.

Obama had originally unequivocally promised that under his health care plan, everyone could keep their doctors and plans.

Remarkably, cancellation notices aren’t the only ObamaCare problem plaguing working families. In recent weeks, press reports have also highlighted:

Reduced Hours for Workers

The clock is ticking for Tommy Cain and thousands of other U.S. employers facing deadlines to make changes to the health insurance they offer their employees under the Affordable Care Act … Business owners are considering trimming their head counts below the 50 full-time-worker cutoff or reducing their workers' hours rather than comply with the requirement, which begins in January for companies with 100 or more employees. – Wall Street Journal, “Bosses face Affordable Care Act deadline

Dropped Coverage for Part-Timers

Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that starting Jan. 1, it will no longer offer health insurance to employees who work less than an average of 30 hours a week. The move affects 30,000 employees … but comes after the company already had scaled back the number of part-time workers who were eligible for health insurance coverage since 2011. The announcement follows similar decisions by Target, Home Depot and others to completely eliminate health insurance benefits for part-time employees. – Associated Press, “Wal-Mart Cut Health Benefits for Some Part-Timers

Fewer Jobs

The economy's weakness itself has been exacerbated by the negative impact of new taxes and regulations under ObamaCare. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the new health-care law will levy more than $500 billion in new taxes over its first 10 years to help pay for insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion… As a result, small and large U.S. health-care technology companies are moving R&D centers and jobs overseas. – Wall Street Journal, “ObamaCare's Anti-Innovation Effect

Ongoing Threats to Privacy

According to the Government Accountability Office report, “weaknesses [remain] in the security and privacy protections applied to HealthCare.gov and its supporting systems ... Collectively, these weaknesses put HealthCare.gov systems and the information they contain at increased and unnecessary risk of unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification or loss. – Fox News, “HealthCare.gov still has security issues

The president’s health care law is hurting working families. Job creators, workers, and families deserve a health care system that works for them, not against them. That is why, as Speaker Boehner has noted, “Republicans remain committed to repealing the law and replacing it with solutions that will lower health care costs and protect American jobs.”

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