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Dr. Deborah A. Gist
Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Dr. Marcy Singer-Gabella
Professor of the Practice of Education
Dr. Heather G. Peske
Associate Commissioner for Educator Quality
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Ms. Christina Hall
Co-Founder & Co-Director
Urban Teacher Center
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Mr. Michael Ferguson
President and Chief Executive Officer
Self-Insurance Institute of America
Mr. Wes Kelley
Columbia Power and Water Systems
Maura Calsyn, J.D.
Director of Health Policy
Center for American Progress
Mr. Robert Melillo
National Vice President, Risk Financing Solutions
USI Insurance Services
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) today sent a letter to President Barack Obama seeking information on his plans to use executive authority to advance the administration’s preferred higher education policies.
Chairman Kline said, “Last summer we successfully worked with the Senate and the administration to enact a new law that cuts student loan interest rates and provides stability for borrowers. Through the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, we have an opportunity to build upon that bipartisan accomplishment and develop comprehensive policies to strengthen the nation’s higher education system for future generations. But we need the president to be an ally in that effort – not obstruct legislative progress with executive actions and reckless rulemakings.”
“The president needs to work with Congress so that we can bring the higher education community together and find common ground as we reauthorize the Higher Education Act this year. Unfortunately, we are off to a difficult start,” Rep. Foxx said. “The president’s repeated threats to circumvent Congress and the failure of his Department of Education to submit any plan or goals for the reauthorization are worrisome indicators. It’s my hope that they will come to the table and help us forge bipartisan solutions to the pressing issues we face in higher education.”
In the letter, Chairman Kline and Rep. Foxx write:
As we continue moving forward with our efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, we hope to work in partnership with the administration to craft policies that will strengthen the law for students, families, teachers, and college leaders. However, your recent threats to circumvent Congress are a major obstacle in this process… We are disappointed the administration would threaten to subvert Congress on higher education policy... Instead, the department continues to propose prescriptive, one-size-fits-all policies that not only ignore the realities of our nation’s diverse higher education system, but are also strongly opposed by many higher education stakeholders.
The leaders request a briefing from the White House Domestic Policy Council later this month on the administration’s plans for future executive actions, as well as additional summits with higher education stakeholders.
To read the letter, click here.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after President Obama signed an executive order affecting federal contractor employees:
The president’s failed policies are crushing working families with high unemployment, rising health care costs, and stagnant wages. We need commonsense solutions that will create jobs and raise the wages of all Americans, not just a select few – and the president's action fails on both counts. Despite the president’s executive political ploys, House Republicans will continue to advance responsible reforms that help improve the lives of all working families.
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– House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) released the following joint statement after the Department of Labor announced in a letter to the committee the withdrawal of controversial enforcement guidance affecting family farms:
The department’s family-farming guidance was flawed and legally suspect. We are pleased this misguided policy has been withdrawn, and the department has recognized the legitimate concerns of policymakers and family farmers. Ensuring a safe and healthy work environment is a goal we all share. However, that goal cannot be reached when federal agencies rewrite the law through executive fiat. We hope the department will engage in a sincere dialogue with other federal agencies and concerned stakeholders to ensure our nation’s farmers are protected.
BACKGROUND: Since 1971 OSHA has been responsible for enforcing federal workplace safety and health standards. Congress has adopted statutory language since 1978 that prevents OHSA from inspecting farms with 10 or fewer employees. This policy has been signed into law by presidents dating back to the Carter administration. However, in 2011, without any public notice or review, the Obama administration released guidance that redefined “farming operations” in order to allow OSHA inspectors onto family farms.
Concerned by this blatant attempt to circumvent the law and the will of Congress, committee Republicans raised objections and urged the department to withdraw the guidance. In a letter received by the committee, the department announced it had removed the guidance from its website and will work with the Department of Agriculture and interested stakeholders on an appropriate policy.
To read the letter from committee Republicans, click here.
To read the response by the Department of Labor, click here.
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Enacted in 1965, the Older Americans Act was established to help older individuals continue living independently in their homes and remain active in their communities. The Act combines federal, state, and local resources to support programs and services that address the needs of the senior population – now estimated at more than 41 million Americans.
At the federal level, the Older Americans Act established the Administration on Aging, now known as the Administration for Community Living, to oversee most of the law’s programs. However, the Act largely relies on a national network of 56 state agencies on aging, 629 area agencies on aging, and nearly 20,000 service providers to plan, coordinate, and deliver services to local seniors.
Using formula based grants authorized under Title III of the law and other funding sources, State and Area Agencies on Aging develop programs tailored to meet the needs of local seniors. These programs provide supportive services such as transportation to and from doctor’s offices and pharmacies; financial support for senior centers and family caregivers; and disease prevention and health promotion activities.
But the Older Americans Act is perhaps best known for supporting key nutrition services, such as group and home-delivery meal programs, the latter being more commonly known as Meals on Wheels. States match 15 percent of their federal grant to ensure local agencies can provide nutritious meals to the elder population most in need. In Fiscal Year 2011, the most recent data available, more than 223 million meals were served to approximately 2.5 million people.
The Older Americans Act plays a vital role in helping seniors access services that promote health, independence, and longevity. In Fiscal Year 2010 alone, the law’s programs served nearly 11 million older Americans and their caregivers.
As we work toward reauthorizing the Older Americans Act, we must acknowledge the law faces challenges. The population of senior citizens has changed dramatically since the law was first drafted in the 1960s. U.S. Census projections estimate the number of Americans age 65 and over will increase from 40 million in 2010 to 72 million in 2030. This means that, for the next 19 years, roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 every day. As a result, many are concerned that the Older Americans Act cannot effectively meet the needs of the rapidly growing senior population – especially amid current fiscal constraints.
As we explore ways to strengthen the law, it is critical we seek to enhance program coordination and efficacy so that we may better serve those with the greatest social and economic needs. Equally important is preserving the law’s federalist structure, which balances a national framework of programs and funding with significant local flexibility in order to effectively meet the needs of local seniors.
Last year the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions approved the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2013. Today we have the opportunity to begin the committee’s process of exploring the best ways to improve the law’s flexible policies and targeted programs that are essential to providing care for America’s seniors.
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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) released the following statements after the Obama administration announced its latest ObamaCare delay:
“Another unilateral delay of the employer mandate further proves the president’s health care law is a threat to our nation’s workplaces,” said Chairman Kline. “Whether the employer mandate is enforced now or ten years from now, it will destroy jobs and reduce the take-home pay of working families. All Americans deserve permanent reprieve from this fatally flawed health care law. Instead of picking winners and losers through executive fiat, the president should work with Congress to scrap the law and replace it with responsible reforms the American people can support.”
“I wish I could say I was surprised that the administration has once again bypassed Congress to implement another Obamacare delay, but I’m not,” said Rep. Roe. “The president still refuses to give the same protections to families as he’s giving to big business, but he’s also refusing employers the certainty they need to get back to doing what they do best: running their businesses. It’s both unfortunate and unacceptable that the president chooses to use his ‘pen’ instead of working with Congress and I’m disappointed that this is how President Obama chooses to govern. With each delay, it becomes more and more clear that this law is unworkable and needs to be replaced with patient-centered reform.”
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First proposed in June 2011, the ambush election rule would make it easier for unions to organize workers and increase the number of dues-paying members. While Big Labor is poised to reap the rewards, workers and job creators stand to lose under the NLRB’s flawed scheme. In response, House Republicans are taking action to hold the NLRB accountable for its misguided rule:
Republican lawmakers are demanding a meeting with the head of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over a controversial union election rule. Two House Republicans sent a letter Thursday to NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce requesting a meeting on Feb. 11 to discuss the board's revival of a rule aimed at speeding up union votes. (The Hill, “Republicans demand meeting on union election rule,” 2/7/2014)
A committee staffer told the Washington Free Beacon that the committee is entitled to know the reasons behind the decision, as it will dramatically alter how union elections have historically operated. “The board’s ambush election rule will eviscerate protections that have been provided to workers, employers, and unions for decades,” the staffer said. “The NLRB is under the jurisdiction of the Education and the Workforce Committee, and the committee is entitled to know why the board is determined to advance this radical union election scheme.” (Washington Free Beacon, “House Demands Answers from NLRB on ‘Ambush Election’ Rule,” 2/7/2014)
The Department of Labor announced on Friday that the pace of job hiring slowed in January, highlighting the latest symptom of an ailing economy. An ambush election rule that would eviscerate long-standing protections for workers, employers, and unions will only exacerbate our nation’s challenges. The Obama NLRB should scrap this misguided regulatory proposal. If it doesn’t, House Republicans will do what’s necessary to protect America’s workplaces.
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On Tuesday, February 11 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), will hold a hearing entitled, “Serving Seniors Through the Older Americans Act.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
The Older Americans Act (OAA) is the major federal statute governing the organization and delivery of social and nutrition services for elderly Americans. Since its inception in 1965, OAA has provided a wide range of assistance to seniors, including transportation, nutrition services such as “Meals on Wheels,” and referral to home care, health, and social services.
Tuesday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine the programs and services provided under OAA and discuss priorities for reauthorization. To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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Ms. Carol V. O’Shaughnessy
Principal Policy Analyst
National Health Policy Forum
Ms. Lynn Kellogg
Chief Executive Officer
Region IV Area Agency on Aging
St. Joseph, Michigan
Dr. Yanira Cruz
President and CEO
National Hispanic Council on Aging
Ms. Denise Niese
Wood County Committee on Aging, Inc.
Bowling Green, Ohio
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) issued the following statements after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released an “ambush election” rule that significantly alters union election procedures:
"This ambush election scheme will make it virtually impossible for workers to make an informed decision in union elections,” said Chairman Kline. “Just as troubling, the rule is a direct threat to the privacy of workers and their families. Joining a union is an important decision; every employee deserves a reasonable amount of time to consider all the facts before casting his or her vote. Current policies provide workers such an opportunity, and they shouldn't be discarded in a blatant ploy to benefit union bosses. The committee will continue to conduct aggressive oversight of this deeply misguided rule.”
"The board's ambush election rule is the latest assault on our nation's workplaces by the Obama administration,” said Rep. Roe. “This flawed proposal will stifle employer free speech and cripple worker free choice, and the only entity that stands to gain is Big Labor. Under the president's watch, workers and job creators have lost faith in the board's ability to fairly and objectively administer the law. Rather than work to restore the public's trust, the board seems determined to make matters worse. At a time when millions are searching for a job and struggling to make ends meet, America’s workers and job creators deserve better.”
NOTE: The Education and the Workforce Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the ambush election rule on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Witnesses and additional details will be posted at edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a full committee hearing entitled, “The Foundation for Success: Discussing Early Childhood Education and Care in America.” During the hearing, members discussed the federal investment in early childhood development, and explored opportunities to better support the nation’s youngest citizens.
“Early childhood education and development programs can have a lasting influence on a child, laying the foundation for future success and achievement in school, the workplace, and life,” said Chairman Kline. “Since the 1960s, the federal government has played an active role in helping children – especially those in low-income families – gain access to critical early care and development services.”
However, Chairman Kline continued, “A 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office [found] 45 federal programs linked to early childhood education and care operated by several different federal agencies.” Chairman Kline shared an infographic illustrating the dozens of existing programs that provide or support federal and state early childhood education and care. He noted that many of the federal programs, such as Head Start, are in need of serious review and improvement. “This should be our first priority, not rubber-stamping a 46th federal program,” Chairman Kline said, alluding to President Obama’s call for universal pre-k.
Kay Brown, Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), discussed the disjointed federal early childhood education and care system. “Multiple agencies administer the federal investment in early learning and child care through multiple programs that sometimes have similar goals and are targeted to similar groups of children… the federal investment in these programs is fragmented [and] some of these programs overlap one another.” Ms. Brown recommended a renewed focus on program coordination and evaluation to ensure programs are more effectively serving children and taxpayers.
Dr. Grover “Russ” Whitehurst, Senior Fellow and Director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, reiterated the importance of reassessing the current federal system of early childhood programs. “I’ve spent a lot of time in childcare facilities that were under the sway of federal legislation… I observed classrooms that I would have been pleased to have my own children attend, but I also saw far too many situations that made me want to cry… The current system, a mishmash of 45 separate, incoherent, and largely ineffective programs, fails to serve the broader public and certainly is less than optimal for the children and families to which it is directed.”
In addition to federal and state programs, there are a number of successful private-sector early childhood programs. Dr. Elanna Yalow, Chief Executive Officer for Knowledge Universe Early Learning Programs, explained the value of public-private partnerships in strengthening early childhood education. “For instance, Knowledge Universe participates in the state voluntary pre-k programs in Florida and Georgia, among others, and we participate in a number of Head Start partnerships in Ohio. All these varieties of public-private partnerships could be better utilized to provide more children and families access to a high-quality early learning experience that best meets their family’s needs.”
At the conclusion of the hearing, Chairman Kline said, “No one denies the importance of early childhood education and care. But we simply do not have unlimited resources, so we must focus on ensuring our existing federal investments are getting maximum results. As the committee continues to discuss the early childhood programs in its jurisdiction, such as Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, we will focus on exploring opportunities to strengthen the programs through enhanced coordination and transparency, while also taking steps to ensure the programs prioritize serving children and families most in need.”
To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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The Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), today held a hearing entitled, “OSHA’s Regulatory Agenda: Changing Long-Standing Policies Outside the Public Rulemaking Process.” During the hearing, members discussed instances in which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has significantly altered standards outside the formal regulatory process.
In his opening remarks, Rep. Walberg said, “President Obama promised in his State of the Union address to go around Congress when necessary to advance his own agenda. The president’s remarks fit a pattern we’re all too familiar with under this administration… Today we will discuss instances of this executive overreach within the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”
Rep. Walberg described important rules governing the regulatory process, such as soliciting public feedback. “These legal guidelines are in place to protect the public against excessive regulations, provide important transparency over the work of federal agencies, and ensure the right policies are in place,” said Rep. Walberg. “Assistant Secretary David Michaels has openly expressed his frustration with the rules he must follow before imposing new regulations on workplaces. Instead, he has promised to find creative solutions to adopt his policy priorities, and that is precisely what the agency is now doing.”
Bradford Hammock, a former employee with the Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor, outlined the practical applications of these creative solutions. “OSHA has decided to push out new policies and in some cases new requirements without bothering to follow the requirements of rulemaking or involving those who would be affected by these changes,” said Mr. Hammock. “We call these actions ‘subregulatory’ because they exist at a lower level in the hierarchy of activities, but still have significant impacts. Subregulatory actions are substantive changes without transparency, input from affected parties, or accountability.”
To illustrate the far-reaching consequences of these significant actions, witnesses discussed how OSHA’s executive overreach has:
Provided union bosses a Trojan horse into nonunion workplaces. “Without any prior public notice, OSHA for the first time issued a Letter of Interpretation (LOI) declaring that non-union employers may be compelled to allow outside union agents and/or community representatives to accompany OSHA inspectors onto the employers’ premises, without any showing that the union or community organizer represents a majority of the employer’s employees… OSHA is injecting itself into labor management disputes and casting doubt on its status as a neutral enforcer of the law.” – Maury Baskin, testifying on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers and Associated Builders and Contractors
Unilaterally extended OSHA jurisdiction over family farms. “Congress has exempted small farming operations from OSHA enforcement actions... Despite this clear direction from Congress, OSHA has drafted investigator guidance, conducted investigations and penalized farming operations in complete disregard of a law that has been on the books for nearly four decades… rather than working cooperatively with industry, OSHA apparently reached the conclusion that it was preferable to penalize small farmers through enforcement.” – Scott VanderWal, President, South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation
“For any administration this would be a troubling pattern,” continued Mr. Hammock. “For an administration that came into office promising to be the most transparent, this is both troubling and hypocritical. These actions undermine the credibility of the agency and the respect it should have, thus interfering with the agency’s mission of working to improve workplace safety.”
“We all want to ensure America’s workers are employed in safe and healthy workplaces,” Rep. Walberg concluded. “Unfortunately, rewriting the law through executive fiat and circumventing the public rulemaking process undermines this goal, creating confusion and uncertainty for workers and job creators. I strongly urge the administration to reverse course.”
To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) released the following statements after a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report revealed the president’s health care law could lead to a loss of 2.5 million full-time jobs by 2024:
“Last year Secretary Sebelius dismissed concerns about job losses under ObamaCare as ‘speculation,’” said Chairman Kline. “Today’s report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is further evidence the president’s health care law is destroying full-time jobs. This fatally-flawed health care scheme is wreaking havoc on working families nationwide, forcing premium increases, policy cancellations, and job losses. President Obama has a responsibility to stop this train wreck before it inflicts more harm on the American people.”
"Today's CBO report only underscores the serious problems Obamacare will cause for this country," said Rep. Roe. "Despite the administration’s rhetoric, the number of Americans estimated who will gain health coverage under this law continues to fall. Since this law was passed, we have been hearing from employers that this law was going to result in layoffs and now we have independent verification that this will be the case. We should reward and encourage hard work in this country, not create a climate that causes the workforce participation rate to plummet. This is absolutely unacceptable and the American people deserve better."
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Mr. Maury Baskin
Littler Mendelson P.C.
Testifying on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers and the Associated Builders and Contractors
Mr. Bradford Hammock
Jackson Lewis P.C.
Testifying on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Ms. Randy Rabinowitz
Attorney at Law
Mr. Scott VanderWal
South Dakota Farm Bureau
The House has already acted to provide workers and job-seekers with a more streamlined, dynamic, and effective job training system. Mr. President, let’s fix the problem.
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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued the following joint statement after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on federal student loan interest rates:
Today’s GAO report makes it clear that Congress was exactly right to tie student loan interest rates to market rates, because that is the fairest way to ensure the loans don’t overcharge either students or taxpayers. The Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act cut interest rates for undergraduate loans nearly in half and made all student loans cheaper, simpler, and more certain.
The Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act (also known as the Smarter Solutions for Students Act) included a provision directing the GAO to provide information on issues related to the cost of federal student loans. Specifically, the report was intended to help members of Congress determine whether there was an ideal federal student loan interest rate that would ensure the government could cover Direct Loan costs without generating excess revenue. To read the full report, entitled “Borrower Interest Rates Cannot Be Set in Advance to Precisely and Consistently Balance Federal Revenues and Costs,” click here.
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In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for a “year of action” that left many Americans unimpressed. As one political journalist wrote, the president’s agenda includes “small-bore executive orders, studies, summits.” President Obama’s lackluster to-do list was especially evident when he announced Vice President Joe Biden would address job training reform by merely conducting a review of the workforce development system.
For those in desperate need of new skills and a job, waiting for the vice president to study the problem is time their families cannot afford. So to help expedite this redundant review process, the House Education and the Workforce Committee has compiled a list of important job training facts the vice president needs to know:
FACT: Workers and job-seekers are struggling to navigate a complicated and bloated bureaucracy. The federal government administers more than 50 employment and training programs across nine federal agencies. In 2012 President Obama described the system as a “maze of confusing training programs.” Most of these programs are duplicative, which means taxpayers dollars are being wasted.
FACT: Onerous federal mandates are stifling local workforce leaders. State and local workforce investment boards are responsible for oversight of employment and training services, yet the federal government imposes numerous mandates dictating who can and cannot serve on the board. As a result, these important decision-making bodies can be unmanageable.
FACT: Even more federal mandates stand between workers and the skills they need to succeed. If a worker wants to jump immediately into training, federal law requires the worker to first complete a cumbersome “sequence of services” that includes career counseling and lessons on resume writing. A system that is supposed to support workers is now an impediment to the very skills they need.
FACT: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has already completed an exhaustive review of the federal workforce development system. Since 2011, the GAO has issued four reports highlighting various weaknesses in federal job training support. The GAO has looked at duplication in the current system and difficulties matching workers with in-demand jobs. The GAO’s comprehensive research has helped reveal what’s wrong with the current system and how to fix it.
FACT: The House Education and the Workforce Committee has spent years thoroughly examining the federal job training system. Over the last three years, the committee has convened 7 hearings that addressed myriad issues within the current workforce development system. More than a dozen witnesses discussed the strengths and witnesses of current job training policies, as well as positive ideas for reform.
FACT: Job training reform is long overdue. The Workforce Investment Act – a primary source of federal job training support – was enacted in 1998. The law has been due for reauthorization since 2003, yet Congress has never updated the law. As a result, these and other important policies have been left on auto-pilot for more than 15 years.
FACT: The House approved comprehensive job training reform legislation almost one year ago. In March 2013 the Republican-led House passed the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act. The legislation will empower employers, rein in bureaucracy, and provide workers with a more dynamic, flexible, and effective network of job training services.
While these are all important facts, it’s most critical the vice president know this: More than 10 million Americans are searching for a job today, including nearly four million who’ve been out of work for six months or longer. They need job training reform, not another review that identifies problems we already know exist. As House Speaker John Boehner noted earlier this week:
It’s been more than 15 years since we last updated our job training programs. It’s about time we do this. And with so many Americans still asking ‘where are the jobs?,’ it’s clearly past time that we do this.
The president wants to take a step back when we should be moving forward with serious job training reform. If this is the type of “action” the president wants to take this year, millions of job-seekers will remain disappointed and unemployed.
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