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Updated: 2 hours 22 min ago

Left Turn: ObamaCare Still Hurting Working Families

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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Kline, Rokita Praise Senate Action on Bill to Strengthen Education Research

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:30am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) today released the following joint statement commending the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee for approving H.R. 4366, the Strengthening Education through Research Act:

Education research is a vital tool for parents, teachers, and school leaders trying to build the best education possible for their students. It also informs policymakers and taxpayers about whether or not federal efforts are helping to raise student achievement. The Education Sciences Reform Act is long overdue for reform and we are pleased the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved a House proposal to update the law. The bill includes fiscally responsible reforms to streamline the research system, promote accountability, protect student privacy, and ensure unbiased education research. We commend Senators Harkin and Alexander for their leadership on this important issue and we hope the Senate approves the bill without delay.

To learn more about H.R. 4366, click here.

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Committee Seeks Information from NLRB General Counsel on Joint-Employer Standard

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:30am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe have asked National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Richard Griffin to provide documents and information concerning his effort to rewrite the joint-employer standard under the National Labor Relations Act.

In a letter to Griffin, they wrote:

Your office recently filed an amicus brief indicating the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should adopt a broader standard to determine joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). A month later, your office authorized complaints against McDonald’s USA, LLC and McDonald’s franchisees as joint-employers … It is our understanding such complaints are unprecedented.

To better understand the reason behind these actions, the committee is requesting the following information by September 30, 2014:

  • A list of all open complaints in which joint-employer status is an issue;
  • Any documents and communications related to closed complaints in which joint-employer status was an issue; and
  • A thorough description of the current joint-employer test the general counsel’s office is applying, particularly its application to franchises.

BACKGROUND: Since 1984, the NLRB has determined joint-employer status by analyzing whether the alleged employers share control over essential terms and conditions of employment, such as hiring, firing, and supervision. In recent months, the NLRB’s general counsel has engaged in an effort to discard this long held standard. At a committee oversight hearing held on September 9, small business owners and labor experts recently testified, this decision threatens to harm family businesses and destroy jobs. News reports highlight the havoc this unprecedented policy will wreak on employers and employees alike:

Business owners, both franchisers and franchisees, told the House Education and the Workforce Committee that the NLRB's move could undermine the franchising model, one of the main ways people get into business for themselves … "Individual entrepreneurs would be deprived of the opportunity to own their own businesses, franchisers would be denied the ability to expand their businesses, and millions of jobs would be lost" [said Catherine Monson, chief executive officer, FASTSIGNS International Inc.]. – Washington Examiner, Business owners: NLRB's McDonald's decision will ruin franchise model 

"I am extremely alarmed by the radical decision of the NLRB's general counsel to attempt to create joint employer status for franchisors” … [Jagruti] Panwala [hotel franchisee] said … This may establish a dangerous precedent that could ultimately eliminate one of the most successful paths of small business ownership in the United States. – Digital Journal, AAHOA Board Member Jagruti Panwala Testifies Before Congress

Catherine Monson, the CEO of signage and banner company FastSigns International Inc. — which operates on a franchise model — said the general counsel's position marks a “drastic change” from how the board's joint employer status has been interpreted since 1984…“It will completely change, and I think, destroy the franchise model.– Law 360, NLRB Joint Employer Stance Risky For Franchises, Reps. Told

A recent effort by the National Labor Relations Board's general counsel to “expand” joint employer liability under federal labor law could change the way franchise businesses operate, witnesses said …“In recent months, it's become clear the Obama National Labor Relations Board is determined to rewrite a franchise model that has served workers, employers, and consumers well for decades,” chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said. – Bloomberg BNA, House Panel Considers Impact on Franchises Of Broadening NLRA Joint Employer Liability

The NLRB is going off the rails again. They have decided to destroy business franchise/franchisee agreements by allowing the corporations that spin out thousands of small businesses using their name, business model and products to be sued over the alleged actions of a few of the small, independent business….This strikes at the heart of the independence of almost 1 million locally owned franchise businesses. – The Hill, Op-Ed, by Rick Manning, NLRB Goes Rogue Against Small Business

To read the members' letter, click here

To learn more about the September 9 oversight hearing, click here.

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Walberg Statement: Hearing on the EEOC Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R. 4959), the Litigation Oversight Act of 2014 (H.R 5422), and the Certainty in Enforcement Act of 2014 (H.R. 5423)

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:00am
Today we will discuss a number of legislative proposals that would bring greater transparency and accountability to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 
   
We are here because every member of the committee recognizes the EEOC is a vitally important agency. It has a responsibility to protect the right of all workers to a fair shot at employment opportunities and a workplace free of discrimination. This is a fundamental human right each and every one of us holds dear. No one should be denied a job, have their wages cut, or be passed over for a promotion because of their race, gender, religion, or disability.
  
We are here because we want the EEOC to do its job, and more importantly, to do its job effectively. That is why in recent months we have made oversight of EEOC a priority, because we know men and women are being discriminated against; we know bad actors would rather put their own hateful prejudice before the talent and experience of each individual worker. It isn’t right and it is EEOC’s mission to help stop it from happening.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the EEOC has shifted its focus away from that vital mission. Instead, it has spent a great deal of time and resources advancing a deeply flawed enforcement and regulatory agenda. Employers have fallen under EEOC’s intense scrutiny without any allegation of employment discrimination. Charges are being filed in federal court with little to no evidence of wrongdoing. Federal judges have harshly and appropriately criticized the agency for its shoddy legal work.

Each day the agency harasses employers without cause and every case tossed out of court for legal malpractice is another lost opportunity to help victims of employment discrimination. It means the veteran, injured and disabled while serving our country, will continue waiting forhis day in court. It means the single mom, who worked long and hard to earn a promotion, will continue waiting for her day in court.

More than 70,000 individual complaints are sitting in front of the commission. The backlog represents thousands of private-sector workers who believe their rights were violated and who are waiting anxiously for the commission to do its job. As the old saying goes, “justice delayed is justice denied.” It’s time to stop denying these men and women the justice they deserve.

Not only is the EEOC dropping the ball with its misguided enforcement priorities, it is also pursuing a regulatory scheme that is making it more difficult for employers to protect employees and consumers. In recent years, states and localities have adopted policies to protect Americans in vulnerable situations who come in contact with workers, such as at home and in the classroom. The EEOC has eviscerated these efforts. Quite simply, the agency’s edict restricting the use of criminal background checks is putting people in harm’s way, including women and children.

It’s time the agency changed course and that’s precisely what the legislation before us is intended to do. Among other provisions, the proposals will help shine more sunlight on EEOC activities, compel the agency to work with employers in good faith to resolve complaints, force the commissioners to do their jobs and oversee the agency’s enforcement actions, and provide a safe harbor to employers complying with federal, state, and local mandates, such as laws requiring criminal background checks during the hiring process.

These are commonsense reforms that should enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting transparency at a vitally important federal agency. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting the ability of states to promote a safe and responsible workforce. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting an effort to get this agency back on track to better protect the rights of America’s workers.

I urge my colleagues to support a more effective, accountable Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by supporting the legislation. I would like to thank my colleague, Representative Hudson, for his leadership on this important issue. Again, we are grateful to our witnesses for joining us and I look forward to our discussion.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Subcommittee to Examine Legislation to Provide Greater EEOC Transparency and Accountability

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 12:00am
On Wednesday, September 17 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), will hold a legislative hearing on the EEOC Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R. 4959), the Litigation Oversight Act of 2014 (H.R 5422), and the Certainty in Enforcement Act of 2014 (H.R. 5423). The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. At a recent oversight hearing, witnesses shared growing concerns with various EEOC regulatory and enforcement actions. For example, “guidance” finalized in 2012 limits employers’ use of criminal background checks during the hiring process. The subcommittee also examined EEOC’s increasing reliance on systemic discrimination cases and the commission’s delegation of its litigation authority to the Office of General Counsel. In response to these concerns, a number of legislative proposals have been introduced:

  • H.R. 4959, introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), would increase EEOC transparency by, among other provisions, requiring the commission to post on its website and in its annual report any case in which the commission was required to pay court sanctioned fees or costs.
              
  • H.R. 5422, introduced by Rep. Walberg, would require EEOC commissioners to approve by majority vote all EEOC-initiated litigation involving multiple plaintiffs or allegations of systemic discrimination.
               
  • H.R. 5423, also introduced by Rep. Walberg, would provide a safe harbor to employers complying with federal or state mandates, such as a law requiring criminal background checks.

Wednesday’s hearing will provide members the opportunity to examine these proposals and ongoing concerns over EEOC’s regulatory and enforcement practices.

To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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WITNESS LIST

Ms. Lynn A. Clements
Director, Regulatory Affairs
Berkshire Associates, Inc.
Columbia, MD

Mr. Eric S. Dreiband
Partner
Jones Day
Washington, D.C.

Mr. Michael L. Foreman
Director, Civil Rights Appellate Clinic
The Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law
State College, PA

Mr. William F. Lloyd
General Counsel
Deloitte LLP
New York, NY

House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Reform Child Care & Development Block Grant Program

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 5:00pm
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) issued the following statements after the House passed as amended S. 1086, a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to reform and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant program:
 
“The Child Care and Development Block Grant program is a vital lifeline for parents trying to build a better future for their families,” said Chairman Kline. “Whether going to work or school, a lot of parents have to decide who will care for their children and worry if they’ve made the right decision. This bipartisan legislation will strengthen this important program to give working moms and dads greater access to quality, affordable child care. I want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate for their work in crafting this legislation, and hope it will be sent to the president’s desk as soon as possible.”
 
“Today, I’m proud to reauthorize the Child Care Development Block Grant program with changes that strengthen parental choice, increase safety standards for providers, rein in an over-zealous federal government, and maintain the program’s essential purpose as work support with state flexibility,” said Rep. Todd Rokita.
 
The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides funds to states to help low-income families pay for child care while a parent works or is in an educational or job training program. The law has not been reauthorized since 1996. The bipartisan, bicameral agreement is based upon legislation introduced in 2013 by Senators Mikulski and Burr that passed the Senate earlier this year and includes reforms to:

• Enhance parental choice by providing information about available care options from all providers, including faith-based and community-based providers, and allowing parents to choose the child care provider that best suits their family’s needs.
   
• Strengthen safety in child care settings by requiring all providers to comply with state health, safety, and fire standards and undergo annual inspections.
   
• Promote high quality child care by reserving funds at the state level to improve the quality of care, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.
 
To learn more about the bill, click here.
 
To read letters of support, click here.

Kline Statement: S.1086 Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:00am

Across the country countless men and women are trying to build a better life for their families. Some are working more for less in order to make ends meet. Others are pursuing a degree at a local university or improving their skills at a nearby community college.

Whether going to work or school, most parents face a difficult question: Who will care for my child? Is there a trusted child care provider who will keep my son or daughter safe? And if there is, can I afford it?

For nearly two decades, the Child Care and Development Block Grant program has helped low-income families answer these tough questions. The program funds state efforts to provide vulnerable families access to child care. Parents receive assistance in the form of a voucher or certificate to pay the child care provider of their choice.

Approximately one and a half million children under the age of 13 are in a child care arrangement funded through the program, including over 25,000 children in my home state of Minnesota. It is a vital safety net for moms and dads trying to lift their families out of poverty.

At a hearing held earlier this year, one witness told the story of a woman named Rita. Speaking of the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, Rita said, “These federal investments were a quite serious lifeline for me…I know where I came from and I do not want to go back.”

Rita’s experience is shared by countless Americans. Yet despite the importance of the program, it has been almost 20 years since Congress reformed the law. As with any federal program left on auto-pilot, problems will emerge and this program is no different.

Poor coordination across related services and a lack of information make it difficult for parents looking for the best provider to know the full range of options. Perhaps most troubling, a patchwork of state licensing, monitoring, and related safety requirements means some children aren’t protected like they should be.

These families deserve better, which is why I am proud to support this important legislation. The bill before us includes a number of commonsense reforms that will strengthen the program and our support of these at-risk families.

For example, the legislation requires all participating child care providers to undergo, at a minimum, an annual inspection to ensure compliance with health, safety, and fire standards. The bill enhances existing training for providers and their workers, so every child is under the care of a well-trained professional. The legislation also reins in the authority of the secretary of Health and Human Services, to prevent this and future administrations from writing onerous rules that would limit access to this important service.

We have a long way to go before every American enjoys the opportunity and prosperity they and their families deserve. By supporting this bipartisan legislation, we have a chance to help these families succeed and set their children on the path to a bright future.

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What They’re Saying: Child Care Stakeholders Support Bipartisan Bill to Help Working Families

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:00am

Child care and community leaders are voicing support for the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill to help low-income families access child care while a parent pursues an education or job-training.

“This bill sets the standard all families expect for their children by requiring providers to undergo comprehensive background checks, annual and pre-licensure inspections, and training... [and] includes significant measures to improve the quality of child care and ensure that all children in child care settings are safe.”– Child Care Aware of America

“Your substitute amendment retains that critical provision and even adds language in various sections that supports the availability of a variety of approaches to childhood development.” – Council for American Private Education

“CCDBG ensure[s] parents continue to have the capacity to choose from a broad diversity of delivery models – including faith-based models – in early education.” – Association of Christian Schools International

"The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Program helps low-income working families and parents transitioning from welfare to work find safe, supportive, caring environments for their children.” – National Education Association

“CCDBG serves as essential support to working families who need to ensure their children are cared for and learning in a safe and high-quality setting during parents’ hours of employment, which often exceed the regular school day.” – Early Care and Education Consortium

“Working families with young children depend on child care so that they can obtain and retain a job … The Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act will combine important safety protections for children in child care with more accountability for the expenditure of public dollars.” – First Children’s Finance

“The quality improvements in the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 will work to ensure that more children of low-income working families have access to a high-quality early care and learning experience that best meets their needs.” – Knowledge Universe

“The CCDBG Reauthorization Act is truly historic.” – Early Learning Policy Group

“We support the proposed CCDBG improvements focused on safety, health, and quality.” – Save The Children

“Child care assistance is an essential work-support for low income parents … [CCDBG] is unique among federal programs in that its two-generational focus has the ability to support both parents’ economic success and children’s healthy development.” – Center for Law and Social Policy

“The bicameral, bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act will combine important safety protections for children in child care with more accountability for the expenditure of public dollars."  - Child Care Aware of Virginia

"Working families with young children need child care, and children need a place to be safe and a setting that promotes their healthy development. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of working families.” – Child Care Resources

"Nemours enthusiastically supports S. 1086, as we believe it will create a solid foundation to increase access to and improve the quality of child care for families and children benefitting from the CCDBG program." – Nemours

"Quality child care is critical for working families. However, parents can't have choices among quality settings unless children are safe and the child care workforce has the training they need to promote quality care. Thank you for supporting working families and for working to strengthen the quality of child care.” – OCCRRA

"Your efforts will have a positive impact on a program critical not only to working parents but to the 6 million infants and toddlers who currently spend some portion of their days in child care." – Zero to Three

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Bipartisan, Bicameral Agreement Reached to Reform Child Care & Development Block Grant Program

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 1:15pm

A bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders today announced a legislative agreement to improve and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. Negotiated by Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC), the agreement will enhance transparency, strengthen health and safety protections, and improve the quality of care.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides funds to states to help low-income families pay for child care while a parent works or is in an educational or job training program. The law has not been reauthorized since 1996. Today’s bipartisan, bicameral agreement is based upon legislation introduced in 2013 by Senators Mikulski and Burr that passed the Senate earlier this year.
 
“The Child Care and Development Block Grant program is a vital lifeline for countless Americans,” said Rep. Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “Working moms and dads have pursued a career, earned a degree, or acquired new skills and training because of the support available through this program. The commonsense ideas included in this bipartisan, bicameral agreement will only strengthen our support of these working families. I want to thank my House and Senate colleagues for working together to forge this bipartisan agreement.”

“For working families in Iowa and around the country, access to safe and affordable child care is essential,” said Senator Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “This bipartisan bill will help to ensure working parents have access to quality, affordable child care and provide rich early-learning opportunities for children, including infants and toddlers and children with disabilities. This bill is a strong example of what Congress can achieve by working together. I am encouraged by the HELP Committee’s growing record of bipartisan accomplishments and look forward to the President signing this critical bill into law.”  

“Every parent, regardless of their income level, deserves to know that their child is well cared-for,” said Rep. Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “This bipartisan, bicameral bill improves child care access, makes critical new investments, and helps to ensure children are safe and are receiving quality care. Reliable care sets children on the path toward success in school and in the rest of their lives. While helping to prepare the next generation, good child care also supports working parents to promote greater workforce stability. These updates to CCDBG are vital for our children, our families, and our nation’s future.”

“This bill helps a working Tennessee mother be able to pay for child care while she earns a degree so she can pay for it herself,” said Sen. Alexander, the senior Republican on the Senate HELP Committee. “Every month, an average of 39,000 Tennessee children get child care through this program while their parents earn an education or build a career. Today’s agreement will continue success stories like the Memphis mother whose infant received care through this program while she earned a business degree and rose to assistant manager at a Walmart, enabling her to pay for the care of her second child at the same childcare center.”

“For families struggling to make ends meet, quality child care is a necessity,” said Rep. Rokita. “This significant agreement strengthens a child care program that has been untouched for nearly two decades. It does so by preserving provider choice, improving transparency, and most importantly, child safety. This bill could truly save lives, and I look forward to its passage.”

“Every working parent with children no matter their income level worries about child care,” said Sen. Mikulski. “What’s affordable? What’s accessible? Will my child be safe? Where can I get the very best care for my kid? It is not enough to simply ensure that kids have someplace to go. We must also ensure that they go someplace that is safe, that nurtures their development, that challenges their mind, and that prepares them for school. I am so pleased that the Senate and House have come together on a bipartisan basis to revitalize, refresh, and reform this vitally important program to support child care providers, give parents peace of mind, and better prepare our children for the future. It’s time to get this done for children, parents, and providers alike!”

“As the son of a single mother, I know how important quality, affordable child care is for working families,” said Rep. Loebsack. “The Child Care Development Block Grant provides a critical lifeline to families and allows them to work or attend school with the peace of mind knowing their children are safe and well cared for. This bipartisan agreement makes long needed updates and improvements to CCDBG that will promote healthy child development and enhance quality and safety. I am pleased that both Republicans and Democrats from both the House and Senate came together to improve the lives of working families.”

“Over three years ago Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and I made a commitment to reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant program so that kids could have safer environments in which to stay while their parents worked and taxpayers did not continue to subsidize providers who created unsafe settings and threatened their well-being. It has been a long time coming, but I’m proud we have reached this point," said Senator Richard Burr. "I am thankful for the work of my colleagues in the Senate and the House who stood together to ensure the passage of this legislation. This legislation will positively impact the lives of millions of children and their parents.”  

The bipartisan, bicameral agreement includes reforms to:

  • Enhance parental choice by providing information about available care options from all providers, including faith-based and community-based providers, and allowing parents to choose the child care provider that best suits their family’s needs.
         
  • Strengthen safety in child care settings by requiring all providers  to comply with state health, safety, and fire standards and undergo annual inspections.
          
  • Promote high quality child care by reserving funds at the state level to improve the quality of care provided to children, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.

The text of the bill is available here.

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Committee Leaders Applaud Passage of Employee Health Care Protection Act

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 12:00am
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) issued the following statements after the House passed H.R. 3522, the Employee Health Care Protection Act:
 
“The president promised time and again if people liked their health care plan they could keep it,” said Rep. Kline. “But the American people are discovering the president failed to keep his word, leaving them with political gimmicks, cancelled policies, and broken promises. Today the House passed legislation to allow hard-working Americans to keep the health plans they like, providing workers and small businesses more affordable health care options. I urge the Senate to support the legislation without delay.”
 
“When President Obama reassured people repeatedly that if they liked their current health care plan they could keep it,” said Rep. Roe, “he was ignoring clear warnings that this promise couldn’t be kept. As a physician, I anticipated that insurance would become increasingly unaffordable and that many Americans would lose access to their existing policies. I am proud to join my colleagues in the House in taking this important step to alleviate some of the chaos the president’s health care law is causing, and I hope the Senate will do the same.”

Rokita Statement: Hearing on "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight"

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:00am

A free and democratic society requires government transparency and accountability. We all want the federal government to serve the best interests of every American – those directly affected by federal programs and those whose tax dollars fund federal programs. To get there, we need to know what’s working and what isn’t. And we need to know the steps an agency should take to turn things around. 

The Department of Education administers roughly 80 programs tied to K-12 schools; 80 programs just at the elementary and secondary education level. It requires a massive bureaucracy to administer so many programs, and the greater the bureaucracy the greater the opportunities for mismanagement. That is why the House has taken action that would begin streamlining these programs, because a more efficient Department of Education can do a better job supporting our nation’s schools.

However, even the leanest federal agency can still be susceptible to waste, fraud, and abuse. We must remain vigilant in our oversight, both in Congress and the offices of our independent partners. The Government Accountability Office and inspectors general are at the forefront of this important effort. Their knowledge and investigative authority are vital tools in the fight against government corruption and mismanagement.        

Chairwoman Foxx noted several reports by GAO affecting higher education policies with recommendations that remain open. Here are just a few examples affecting K-12 education policies:                                                                      

  • “Education Could Do More to Assist Charter Schools with Applying for Discretionary Grants”;
                                                                                                
  • “Students with Disabilities: Better Federal Coordination Could Lessen Challenges in the Transition from High School”;                                                          
  • “Selected States and School Districts Cited Numerous Federal Requirements as Burdensome, While Recognizing Some Benefits”; and
         
  • “Education Research: Further Improvements Needed to Ensure Relevance and Assess Dissemination Efforts.”
 Each report embodies a new opportunity to serve the American people more effectively and spend taxpayer dollars more wisely. President Reagan once noted, “Government is the people’s business, and every man, woman, and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid.” I am fighting for all those people so that they can build better lives for themselves and their families. It is our responsibility to protect their tax dollars and ensure the American people receive the highest level of government service they expect. 

# # #

Foxx Statement: Hearing on "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight"

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:00am
Independent oversight is a central tool to ensure the federal government spends taxpayer dollars wisely and administers programs and policies in the most efficient and effective way. When you consider the challenges facing our schools and workplaces, as well as the tsunami of red ink confronting taxpayers, the need for responsible administration of the federal government has never been more important.

The Government Accountability Office and each agency’s Office of Inspector General play vital roles in the oversight effort. The hard-working staff of these nonpartisan entities are the taxpayers first line of defense against  waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars. They also help identify areas where programs and policies can be improved to ensure the American people receive the best services possible. 

Like all federal agencies, the Department of Education has a responsibility to take the concerns and recommendations offered by these independent investigators seriously. There is certainly no shortage of improvements needed at the department. In recent years, the GAO has issued numerous reports highlighting areas where programs and policies should be strengthened, including reports entitled:                                                                       
  • “Use of New Data Could Help Improve Oversight of Distance Education”;
                                                                                                
  • “Foreign Medical Schools: Education Should Improve Monitoring of Schools That Participate in the Federal Student Loan Program”;                                                          
  • “Better Oversight Could Improve Defaulted Loan Rehabilitation”; and
         
  • “Improved Tax Information Could Help Families Pay for College.”
These reports are in addition to those routinely released by the Inspector General’s office. The examples I just cited are especially noteworthy, because they include recommendations not yet implemented by the department. Agencies may not agree with every recommendation in every report. In fact, this committee may question various recommendations from time to time. 

However, each independent report represents an opportunity for a federal agency to consider changes and improve. Whether it’s the solutions outlined by the GAO and IG offices, or a set of changes proposed internally by an agency, action must be taken. The American people deserve no less.

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Witnesses Warn: NLRB Assault on Franchise Businesses Will Destroy Jobs

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:00am
The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), today held a hearing to examine efforts by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to rewrite the existing standard for determining joint employer status under the National Labor Relations Act. During the hearing, members listened as small business owners and other witnesses described how this radical effort would destroy the franchise model and American jobs. 

“Each day more than eight million Americans go to work at our nation’s 757,000 franchise businesses,” said Rep. Roe. “The franchise model has encouraged entrepreneurship, the growth of small businesses, and job creation …Yet today we are discussing an effort that will force small businesses to close their doors, or at the very least, discourage new small businesses from being created. Workers will once again be on the losing end of this Big Labor bailout, and at a time they can least afford it.” In July, NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin issued an unprecedented decision that determined McDonald’s Inc. and certain franchisees were joint employers. Griffin has also urged the board to overturn decades of precedent in favor of a far more expansive joint employer standard. 

Labor law expert Todd Duffield explained the implications of this effort, “The [traditional] test is clear, it makes sense, and it’s worked for over 30 years … Congress should understand that these are not small, technical legal changes to labor law. The consequences of changing the board’s current joint employer standard threatens established business relationships and will cause significant economic upheaval.”

Those concerns were echoed by men and women engaged in the franchise business. Catherine Monson, chief executive officer of FASTSIGNS International, warned of the harmful impact that would be inflicted on employers and employees alike. “Such a rule change could completely upend the franchise model and have devastating consequences for franchising as an economic force in the United States … [I]ndividual entrepreneurs would be deprived of the opportunity to own their own business, franchisors would be denied the opportunity to expand their business, and millions of jobs will be lost.”

Clint Ehlers, a FASTSIGNS franchisee, shared these concerns: “If franchise owners have less independence and control, they can also expect lower profits. If profits are lower, there will be less demand from entrepreneurs to start franchised businesses … A revised joint employer standard will result in fewer new franchised businesses, at a time when our economy is thirsty for growth and expansion.”

Small-business owner and franchisee Jagruti Panwala added, “Mr. Chairman, I am no intermediary. I am a business owner and job-creator … I strongly urge this committee, and the National Labor Relations Board, to consider the tremendously adverse impacts on franchisees and workers.”

“The American people deserve to know what the federal government is up to and how it will affect their families,” concluded Rep. Roe. “Today’s hearing has helped shine a light on those consequences and I hope encouraged the NLRB to change course.”

To learn more about today’s hearing, read witness testimony, or to watch an archived webcast, visitwww.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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ICYMI: The Student Loan Debt Solution Is All About Jobs

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:00am
By Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
  
Many college graduates are delaying some of life’s most important decisions – including starting a family and buying a home – because they face a pile of debt with no job prospects.  A record number of young adults live with their parents and roughly half of college graduates under the age of 26 rely on mom and dad for financial help.  

President Obama wants people to believe that shaving a few dollars off monthly student loan payments will solve the problems plaguing graduates. That’s the essence of a proposal being touted on the campaign trail that would raise taxes and allow some graduates to refinance federal student loans. 

Let’s be honest: This scheme is more about helping politicians survive an election than helping graduates survive the Obama economy. Sadly this is not the first time young Americans have been used as pawns in political messaging.

In the summer of 2013, interest rates on most federal student loans were set to double. The president included a long-term, market-based solution in his budget proposal and urged Congress to pass it to prevent an interest rate spike. 

The Republican-led House passed a bill mirroring the president’s request. Yet the Obama administration rejected it and the Senate refused to back it, demanding instead a short-term fix.

Why the flip-flop? According to one press report, Democrats hoped to kick the can down the road to “rally younger voters to the polls” in the 2014 elections.

Fortunately, a long-term solution became law. We averted an interest rate spike and provided students and families more certainty. We did the right thing by taking the threat of an interest rate hike off the table, leading to some politicians’ current search for another election-year gambit to rally voters.

This political gambit fails to address the core of the problem: graduates entering a job market that lacks good-paying jobs. No monthly payment is affordable if you are underemployed or out of work.
 
The best way to help young Americans with debt burdens is to get our economy moving again – precisely what House Republicans are trying to do. The House has advanced more than 40 jobs bills, many with bipartisan support, that would open new doors of opportunity for struggling graduates. Yet all of these bills are collecting dust in the Senate. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may not agree with every detail of every bill, but that is no excuse for his total inaction.

Recently, Congress did come together to pass a bipartisan fix for our broken workforce development system. We got the job done because the House acted, the Senate came to the table, and the administration got out of the way. Now we have a reformed law that will help put people back to work.

Our nation desperately needs more bipartisan successes like this. Job creation will remain the House’s number one priority until every graduate and struggling worker who needs a job can find one. Meanwhile, we are also taking steps to strengthen higher education for current and future graduates.

If we enact a series of commonsense reforms, the federal government can help more Americans turn the dream of a college degree into reality. For starters, Washington should encourage more innovation, such as competency-based education, so students can earn a degree at a faster pace and lower cost.

Federal policymakers should empower students and families to make smart decisions by enhancing financial counseling and delivering better information to students looking for the right college or university.

We should improve federal student aid. Many students take out loans when other financial assistance is available. It is time to streamline the confusing maze of aid and grant programs, and make it easier for students and families to apply for help.

Congress should also strengthen the options available for students to repay their loans. The current system encourages students to borrow more than they need and can afford. We should pursue policies that ensure low-income individuals get the help they need, while also protecting taxpayer dollars.

The House has already passed legislation addressing some of these issues, often with overwhelming bipartisan support. These efforts would make a real difference in the lives of students and they deserve consideration in the Senate.

Life after graduation should be filled with hope and excitement. For far too many, it’s become a time of hopelessness and anxiety. Countless college graduates are struggling because of the president’s failed economic and education policies.  Let’s stop treating young adults as political pawns and start working together to ensure they can build the future they deserve.

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Roe Statement: Hearing on "Expanding Joint Employer Status: What Does it Mean for Workers and Job Creators?"

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:00am
Each day more than eight million Americans go to work at our nation’s 757,000 franchise businesses. The franchise model has encouraged entrepreneurship, the growth of small businesses, and job creation. Countless men and women invest their tears, sweat, and savings to realize the dream of owning their own business, and the franchise model has helped turn those dreams into a reality. 

For most franchise employers, it’s tough staying afloat in even the best of times. It’s especially challenging when Washington bureaucrats change the rules in the middle of the game. In recent months, it’s become clear the Obama National Labor Relations Board is determined to rewrite a franchise model that has served workers, employers, and consumers well for decades. 

At the center of this effort is Richard Griffin. As the agency’s general counsel, Mr. Griffin has encouraged the board to blur the lines of responsibility between the franchisor and franchisee. Most recently, he determined McDonalds Inc. is a joint employer with its franchisees, a decision that no doubt sent a shockwave across the country. This radical effort is detached from reality for two important reasons. 

First, it pretends the franchise business model doesn’t exist. Since 1984, the NLRB has applied a straight-forward test to determine whether two separate entities are joint employers of a business establishment. The board analyzes whether the alleged employers share control over essential conditions of employment, such as hiring, firing, discipline, supervision, and direction of employees. Control over these matters must be direct and immediate.

The current standard makes perfect sense when one considers how the franchise model works in the real world. As chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants – a company that includes iconic brands like Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. – Andrew Puzder is no stranger to the franchise business or this subcommittee. Here is how he has described the franchise business model:


The franchiser/franchisee relationship is built on a division of roles and responsibilities. The franchiser owns a unique system, which it licenses and protects as a brand. The franchisee operates an independent business under the brand's trademarks at one or more locations as a licensee. … Franchisees independently choose who they hire, the number of people they hire, the wages and benefits they pay, the training that such employees undergo, the labor practices they use, how their employees are monitored and evaluated, and the circumstances under which they're promoted, disciplined or fired.

Make no mistake, the current standard reflects the way franchise businesses have been owned and operated for decades. So why the sudden effort to dismantle policies that work? As the Wall Street Journal noted in reaction to Mr. Griffin’s decision:


This is a bonanza for trial lawyers who will be able to shake down the parent company for alleged labor violations at franchisees whose pockets aren't as deep. The other beneficiary is Big Labor. … Under Mr. Griffin's law, they can leap-frog their direct managers to corporate headquarters, which are more vulnerable to political pressure and less sensitive to local markets. 

Which leads to the second reason why this radical effort is so detached from reality – it fails to recognize the difficult challenges facing workers in the Obama economy. Our nation remains mired in a jobs crisis. Workers are frustrated. After six years of President Obama’s failed policies, I am frustrated too. Stocks prices on Wall Street are breaking new records while wages on Main Street remain flat. Meanwhile, the prices for essential goods and services like food, gas, and health insurance have gone up. 

That’s not right and working families deserve better. Yet today we are discussing an effort that will force small businesses to close their doors, or at the very least, discourage new small businesses from being created. Workers will once again be on the losing end of this Big Labor bailout and at a time they can least afford it.

I suspect some of my colleagues will protest today’s hearing. It will likely be noted the board hasn’t rendered a decision and suggested the committee is once again putting the cart before the horse. We’ve heard our colleagues sing that tune before and each time it has been followed by a radical shift in board policy. 

The American people deserve to know what the federal government is up to and how it will affect their families. Hiding the truth behind some process nonsense isn’t fair to the men and women who will have to live by the rules issued by this federal agency. Today’s hearing will help shine a light on those consequences and I hope encourage the NLRB to change course.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** TIME CHANGE: Hearing to Examine Oversight of Department of Education

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:00am
Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 10th at 9:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), will hold a joint hearing entitled, "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight." Members will discuss recommendations from the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Education Office of Inspector General on ways to improve department services and save taxpayer dollars.

To learn more about these hearings, or to watch live webcasts, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Hearings to Examine Joint Employer Status Under NLRA and Oversight of Department of Education

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:00am
This week, the committee will convene two hearings in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

On Tuesday, September 9th at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), will hold a  hearing entitled, “Expanding Joint Employer Status: What Does it Mean for Workers and Job Creators?” The hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine efforts by the National Labor Relations Board to rewrite how the agency determines joint employer status under the National Labor Relations Act.

On Wednesday, September 10th at 10:00 a.m, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), will hold a joint hearing entitled, "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight." Members will discuss recommendations from the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Education Office of Inspector General on ways to improve department services and save taxpayer dollars.

To learn more about these hearings, or to watch live webcasts, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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Indiana School Leaders and Job Creators Describe Harmful Effects of President’s Health Care Law

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 12:00am
The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), held a field hearing in Greenfield, Indiana to examine the health care challenges facing the state's classrooms and workplaces. According to a local news report


Hoosier business owners and education officials aired out their concerns about the Affordable Care Act to Congress without having to go all the way to Washington D.C.
 … The chambers there are clearly smaller than the halls of Congress, but that’s exactly the way committee members wanted it. Several panelists were concerned about how ACA has been affecting their budgets.

As witnesses made clear, the president’s health care law is undermining the success of the nation’s schools and workplaces –

Schools                                                                         

  • The most significant impact is on our special needs students. These students need and want consistency … It is best for our special needs students to have the same bus driver for their routes. Unfortunately, we now must split the route between two drivers. By using different drivers for the same route, our special needs students are subject to constant change which is uncomfortable for our special needs students and not in their best interests. – Mr. Danny Tanoos, Superintendent, Vigo County School Corporation, Terre Haute, IN
                                                                                                
  • Like many community colleges our funding is very limited. It does not allow us to absorb large unfunded mandates such as any employee who reaches 30 hours being offered health insurance. We would have to pass along such increases on the backs of students by increasing tuition. As a result many of those who are at the lowest income levels trying to improve their lives would no longer be able to afford college. – Mr. Tom Snyder, President, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, Indianapolis, IN                                                             
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (PPACA) has had and continues to have a severe and disproportionately disruptive effect on our high performing school district. We have identified three categories in which these negative effects have occurred in our school district. There is the impact on our students, the impact on our employees, and the impact on the school district itself. These intertwined and interactive effects, taken together, are serious now and appear to be increasing in their severity over time. – Mr. Michael Shafer, Chief Financial Officer, Zionsville Community Schools, Zionsville, IN

Workplaces                                                                               

  • In summary, since the ACA took effect, our company and employees have seen premiums increase dramatically while deductibles and out-of-pocket costs have been raised, all during a period when the overall health of our employees has improved … From the experience of IDS, I can say that the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable for our company and employees. – Mr. Mark DeFabis, President, Integrated Distribution Services, Plainfield, IN
                   
  • We offer health insurance to our full time employees although not affordable by government standards … This cost to our business is roughly in the area of $2.42 to $3.23 per hour per employee depending on hours worked. To meet the proposed guidance of not to exceed 9.5% of income that cost would move into the $2.87 to $5.15 range per hour per employee! Representing an 18 to 59% raise in cost per hour per employee. Where is the AFFORDABLE in this act? – Mr. Daniel Wolfe, President, Wolfe’s Auto Auctions, Terre Haute, IN                                                                        
  • The Affordable Care Act’s reporting mandates will absolutely ‘bury’ our Human Resources Department … The forms must be filed electronically for companies with over 250 employees, such as Draper. However, there is no guidance or process yet established to explain how to do this … Our HR Department’s worst fear is that the final versions will be made available on December 15, with a December 31 deadline for submission! – Mr. Nate LaMar, International Regional Manager, Draper, Inc., Spiceland, IN

Congressman Luke Messer (R-IN) noted during the hearing, “Our nation’s school children and hourly workers shouldn’t be forced to pay the price of that law.” Chairman Roe echoed the sentiment: “Our children and working families deserve better."

To read witness testimony, opening statements, or watch an archived webcast of the hearing, visitwww.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.                      

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