Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in opposition to H.R. 803, the SKILLS Act. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“I thank the Gentleman for yielding, and I rise in support of his substitute and in opposition to the so-called SKILLS Act.
“Mr. Chairman, there was an opportunity to do this in a bipartisan fashion. As we so often do, unfortunately, in this body, we choose to do it in a partisan fashion, which almost predictably will mean its defeat. This bill is a partisan-sponsored version that is opposed by most stakeholders, including the National Skills Coalition. It's a partisan bill because, unfortunately, Republicans refused Democrats' request to negotiate a bipartisan version.
“We need a bill like the Democratic alternative introduced by the Gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Tierney, who wrote a bill that enhances career pathways into training programs for advanced manufacturing and other industries. Our alternative would work to enhance partnerships with industry, maintain a role for all stakeholders in workforce investment, and protect services for those facing significant barriers to finding work. This is the type of approach that House Democrats’ Make It In America plan has endorsed.
“Unfortunately, the Republican bill, on the other hand, would eliminate and/or consolidate 35 programs into a single workforce investment fund. That may sound good, but it lacks any priority of service for those facing the highest barriers to employment. These include low-income individuals and those with poor work histories. It ends the requirement that state and local workforce investment boards include representation of workers, labor representation, and it removes much-needed funding for low-income youth, other than Job Corps.
“Mr. Chairman, this is not the Workforce Investment Act reauthorization that the American people expect, nor the one that Congress should pass. We need one that invests in competitiveness, jobs, and the growth of our manufacturing sector. We need the alternative offered by the Gentleman from Massachusetts.
“I hope my Republican friends will set partisanship aside and work with us to enact legislation that helps all of our people find jobs and pursue the opportunities that make our country great. We have had some success in this Congress when we acted in a bipartisan fashion. We had it just a few days ago on the Violence Against Women Act. But when we act in a partisan fashion we fail. And this country is sick of failure, sick of this Congress' inability to work together, and this is an example.
“A bill that has historically been passed in a bipartisan fashion comes to this Floor in a very partisan fashion. What a shame. What a shame for America. What a shame for Americans. What a shame for workforce development. What a shame for our ability to compete and to grow and create jobs. Let's pass this alternative that the Gentleman from Massachusetts has offered, and I yield back the balance of my time.”