House Education & Workforce Committee

***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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Video Release: Kline Urges Support for Bipartisan, Bicameral Job Training Reform Bill

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 12:00am

The House of Representatives today considered the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), legislation that will help put Americans back to work by reforming the nation’s outdated workforce development system.

During debate, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) described how the bipartisan agreement will protect taxpayers and help workers compete for in-demand jobs.
 

Men and women across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Many have lost a job and others are working more for less. Learning a new skill or trade can open the door to that next opportunity a worker desperately needs, yet too often flawed policies stand in the way.

Quite frankly our nation’s job training system is broken. We have too many ineffective programs, too much bureaucracy, and very little accountability; the voices of job creators are stifled, state and local leaders are tied up in red tape, and hard-earned taxpayer dollars are wasted.

We’ve known about these problems for years, but have failed to act – until now. We have an opportunity to advance reforms that will help all Americans compete and succeed in today’s workforce.
 

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

To learn more about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/skillsact/.

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Kline Statement: H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 12:00am

Men and women across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Many have lost a job and others are working more for less. Learning a new skill or trade can open the door to that next opportunity a worker desperately needs, yet too often flawed policies stand in the way.

Quite frankly our nation’s job training system is broken. We have too many ineffective programs, too much bureaucracy, and very little accountability; the voices of job creators are stifled, state and local leaders are tied up in red tape, and hard-earned taxpayer dollars are wasted.
 
We’ve known about these problems for years, but have failed to act – until now. We have an opportunity to advance reforms that will help all Americans compete and succeed in today’s workforce.
 
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is based on four principles necessary for a modern, efficient, and effective job training system.
 
First, the bill streamlines a confusing maze of federal programs and mandates. Let’s make it easier for workers to access the support they need to get back to work.
 
Second, the bill promotes skills training for in-demand jobs. It’s time to prepare workers for the jobs of the future, not the jobs of the past.
 
Third, the bill will reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and administrative costs. We need to stop squandering money on a bloated bureaucracy and start ensuring these limited resources go to workers in need.
 
Fourth and finally, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides strong accountability over the use of taxpayer dollars. We will know whether the taxpayer investment is paying off and impose real consequences when a program isn’t getting the job done.
 
Last year, the House passed job training reform legislation known as the SKILLS Act. The bill incorporated these principles and I am pleased they are reflected in the bipartisan, bicameral agreement before us today. Is this a perfect solution? No, it’s not. In some areas I wish we could have done more.
 
But will this agreement protect taxpayers and deliver the kind of employment support workers need to get back on their feet? I believe it will and urge my colleagues to support it.
 
Before closing Mister Speaker, I’d like to thank some of my colleagues who helped make this possible.
 
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, chair of the workforce training subcommittee, is without a doubt the leading champion for a stronger, more accountable workforce development system.

Representative George Miller, senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee, is no stranger to this issue and remains a tireless advocate for America’s workers.

I am grateful for the leadership of Senators Tom Harkin and Lamar Alexander, the chairman and ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and hope this is one of many bicameral compromises we reach this year.

I’d also like to thank Representative Buck McKeon, former chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, as well as Representatives Ruben Hinojosa and Joe Heck.

And last but not least, Senator Patty Murray, and my good friend, Senator Johnny Isakson, were both instrumental in our work.
 
Finally Mister Speaker, we wouldn’t be here today without the hard work of our staff. The majority and minority staffs of the relevant House and Senate committees put in more hours than they care to remember.
 
Unfortunately, there isn’t time to recognize them all; however, a few stand out on our side of the aisle that merit mention.
 
Juliane Sullivan, the committee’s staff director, is a trusted advisor who helped us navigate the choppy waters that arose along the way.

Brad Thomas helped ensure the bill addresses the unique needs of Americans with disabilities.
 
James Bergeron, our former director of education policy, left the committee before this compromise was announced, but his knowledge and expertise are present on every page of this agreement.
 
And finally, Rosemary Lahasky, whose passion and dedication kept this effort moving forward when it seemed like it couldn’t get done. There simply aren’t enough words to describe Rosemary’s incredible contribution. We are all grateful for her service.

***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Committee to Consider Legislation to Strengthen America’s Higher Education System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 12:00am

On Thursday, July 10 at 10:00 a.m., the House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will mark up the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act (H.R. 3136), the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4983), and the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 4984). As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the committee markup will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act, introduced by Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Jared Polis (D-CO), will foster competency-based education demonstration projects to provide students new opportunities to receive a high-quality education that fits their personal and financial needs. To learn more about the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act, click here.

The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, introduced by Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN), will help students and families make informed decisions about their higher education options. To learn more about the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, click here.

The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for recipients of federal financial aid. To learn more about the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, click here.

To learn more about this markup, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/markups.

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Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act

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



THE PROBLEM:

The cost of obtaining a college degree has risen dramatically over the past decade. For example, since 2002 in-state tuition and fees at public four-year and two-year institutions increased by 51 percent and 35 percent, respectively. During this same period of time, the cost of attending a private four-year institution increased by approximately 25 percent. To exacerbate rising college costs, there are federal roadblocks impeding efforts to provide a postsecondary education in a less costly, more effective way.

For example, regulators and institutions have traditionally used “credit hours” to measure student progress and disburse student aid. This model made sense when “seat time” was the best proxy for learning. However, today institutions are developing new models of education that can measure students’ actual learning rather than just the time spent in class. This type of innovation can offer students a wealth of new educational opportunities tailored to their specific personal and financial needs, yet outdated federal policies are standing in the way.

THE SOLUTION:

As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the House Education and the Workforce Committee is working to support more innovation across the nation’s college campuses. To this end, Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project (H.R. 3136). This bipartisan legislation will provide students new opportunities to receive a high-quality education in a way that best serves their personal and financial needs.

THE ADVANCING COMPETENCY-BASED EDUCATION DEMONSTRATION PROJECT ACT 

  • Promotes innovation in higher education by directing the Secretary of Education to implement competency-based education demonstration projects. The secretary is authorized to waiver current statutory and regulatory requirements that impede the creation of competency-based education programs. 
  • Provides accountability by requiring an annual evaluation of each demonstration project to determine program quality, the progress of participating students towards earning a degree, obstacles related to student financial assistance, and the extent to which other legal barriers may exist that prevent the success of competency-based education.
  • Delivers greater flexibility to institutions that want to provide students a more personalized, cost-effective education.

To read the bill text, click here.

To download this fact sheet, click here

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Committee Continues Oversight of Effort to Unionize Student Athletes

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee leaders today joined a bicameral amicus brief to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as it considers whether to treat scholarship student athletes as “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act. The legal brief argues that college athletes are not employees under the law and treating student athletes as employees is unworkable:

As a matter of both national labor and educational policy, the Congressional Committee Members urge the Board to find that grant-in-aid scholarship football players are not employees… The profound and inherent differences between the student-university and employee-employer relationship makes employee status unworkable both as a matter of law and in practice. 

The amicus was signed by the following House and Senate leaders:

  • House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN);
  • Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC);
  • Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN); 
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN);
  • Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee Ranking Member Johnny Isakson (R-GA); and 
  • Primary Health and Aging Subcommittee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC).

The amicus brief follows a letter Chairman Kline sent to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) President Mark Emmert requesting information on the organization’s effort to address various challenges affecting student athletes. As Chairman Kline noted:

[At a recent committee hearing] a university president, athletic director, and former scholarship football student athlete made clear that unionization would hurt rather than help student athletes. However, witnesses raised a number of legitimate concerns surrounding college athletics that merit careful consideration…

The committee understands the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is taking steps to address these and other issues to improve college athletes’ education and experience. To further inform the committee, please identify all steps taken by the NCAA to address these issues and improve the collegiate experience of student athletes.

Background: On March 26, a NLRB regional director issued an unprecedented decision that scholarship football players at Northwestern University are “employees” under federal labor law. On April 25, Northwestern University football players voted on whether to unionize and the ballots from the election are impounded pending review by the full board. The committee held a hearing on May 8 to examine the impact of the NLRB’s decision on student athletes and their pursuit of higher education. Members discussed the challenges facing student athletes and the troubling consequences of treating these students as “employees” under federal labor law.

To read the amicus, click here.

To read Chairman Kline’s letter to the NCAA, click here.

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Committee Leaders Issue Joint Statement in Response to PBGC Financial Report

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 4:00pm
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Education and the Workforce Committee Senior Democrat George Miller (D-CA), Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Senior Democrat John Tierney (D-MA) issued the following joint statement after the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released its latest financial projections report:


The latest PBGC report confirms in stark detail the significant challenges confronting the multiemployer pension system. The systemic crisis we face threatens countless workers, employers, and retirees, and could ultimately harm American taxpayers, as well. We have an obligation to advance reforms that will modernize the system, encourage employer participation, protect taxpayers, and offer new tools to help rescue troubled plans. We continue to work together to find common ground and a responsible legislative solution. The American people deserve nothing less.

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Kline, Roe Applaud Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 11:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) today issued the following joint statement after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores: 

Religious freedom is a fundamental right our nation has always protected. No American should be punished by the federal government for refusing to violate his or her moral beliefs, yet that is precisely what the Obama administration sought to do. The Supreme Court is to be commended for reversing the administration’s assault on religious liberty and for safeguarding the First Amendment protections we hold dear. 

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Left Turn: Supreme Court Rebukes President Obama

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:00am
In a resounding rebuke of President Obama, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision yesterday declaring the president’s 2012 non-recess recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board unconstitutional. In response to the high court’s ruling, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) said:

The president’s unprecedented action was one of many intended to further his own partisan agenda by circumventing the Constitution and side-stepping Congress​. Thankfully the Supreme Court has helped rein in his abuse of power and restored some checks and balances to our system of government.

Unprecedented indeed. As the Wall Street Journal notes:

The Supreme Court handed President Obama his 13th unanimous loss in two years on Thursday, and this one may be the most consequential. All nine Justices voted to overturn Mr. Obama's non-recess recess appointments as an unconstitutional abuse of power.

Over nearly 238 years of American history, the Supreme Court has never had to review the President's authority to temporarily fill vacant executive offices when Congress is adjourned. Mr. Obama's 2012 maneuver to void the Senate's advice and consent role triggered a judicial intercession, and defeats at the High Court are seldom as total as this one…

But the true import of Noel Canning is that even liberal Justices are alarmed that Mr. Obama's executive law-making is visiting real damage on the Constitution. This will not be the last legal torpedo aimed at the hull of his increasingly willful Presidency.

The impact of this unconstitutional overreach extends beyond the Supreme Court’s hallowed chamber. Hundreds of decisions were issued by an unconstitutionally-appointed board and those decisions need to be reviewed. As Chairman Kline and Rep. Roe explained:

Now the board will have to begin the process of reconsidering hundreds of decisions issued by the unconstitutionally appointed members. These cases must be a top priority for the board, not the pursuit of controversial regulatory schemes that will simply wreak further havoc on our nation’s workplaces. The men and women who were thrown in limbo by the president’s unconstitutional overreach have waited long enough for the justice they deserve.

The committee intends to closely follow the NLRB’s response to the court’s decision to ensure the rights of those individuals harmed by the president’s unconstitutional action are protected.

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