A picture of Representative John Garamendi
John G.
Democrat CA 3

About Rep. John
  • Jobs

    by Representative John Garamendi

    Posted on 2013-12-10

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    GARAMENDI. Mr. Speaker, we come here about every week to talk about jobs in America. This last Friday, we held a jobs fair in my district in Fairfield, California, and it was a remarkable event. I have been around a long time. I have seen many, many things. As remarkable as it was, it was also one of the saddest events I have been to. I have been to a lot of funerals and a lot of tragedies over the years, but this one ranks very high.

    I put this picture up here because this is a picture of the second hour after that job fair had begun. The line outside the building, where we had some 40 employers that were offering to hire people, stretched over 200 yards. The temperature was about 37, 38 degrees. It was one of those cold mornings, and these people were determined to get a job. They were willing to stand in that line for up to an hour and a half, some of them perhaps even 2 hours, just to have a shot, just to be able to talk to an employer, to have the opportunity to look face- to-face at an employer and say, ``I want to work.'' The stories were incredible. I spent about an hour, maybe an hour and 20 minutes, talking to the men and women that were in this line.

    I remember one gentleman who had served several tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said he was with the Army Rangers, said he had four Purple Hearts. He left the military and is now unemployed. In fact, in this line were 141 veterans, unemployed, looking for work. They have skills, know when to get up in the morning, know what it takes to go to work, to put in a full day or more--unemployed.

    A young woman, fresh out of school, a child at home, she wanted to go to work. She had an associate's degree in social welfare programs, human relations, anything in that area. She said: I will take any job. I just want to go to work. I want to take care of my child.

    Another woman, 50, 55, divorced, had an 18-year-old child. Her alimony is over: I have got to go to work. I have got to support myself.

    The stories of life, the stories of America, the stories of 971 people that stood in line just to have a shot at a job.

    There are 435 of us in this room on a full day. We have a job. We are employed, and we have a good wage. We have a very good wage, and we have health care. And we are not doing our job. We are not doing the job that America sent us here for. America sent us here to put America back to work. That is our job. We are not living up to that.

    Two years ago, the President of the United States put forth in his State of the Union message an American jobs plan, an American jobs plan to put people in this Nation back to work. It was complete: education, retraining, a research component for the next sector of this economy for the future, a transportation infrastructure sector, a way to finance it--2 years ago.

    Mr. Speaker, 971 people were standing in the cold in Fairfield, California, just wanting a shot at a job; and here we are, 2 years after the President of the United States put forward a jobs plan for America, and it has not been done. The majority in this House has refused to bring up even one of those programs.

    I am going to talk about those things tonight, those things that we can do here in America, that we can do so that when 971 of my constituents are willing to line up to get a job, they will have one. They will have that opportunity. They will have a shot at the future.

    It is a disgrace that after 2 years with a complete plan that would put people back to work, the majority has refused to bring forward any part of that legislation. It is a disgrace. It is time for this country to go back to work. It is time for this House to go back to work to put Americans back on the job.

    You want to deal with the deficit? Put people to work. They will become taxpayers. You want to deal with food stamps? You want to cut food stamps? Put people to work. Build the infrastructure. Put the teachers back in the classroom. But no, you are going to slash the benefits.

    These people, searching for a job, know that unless this Congress-- and I see our esteemed leadership and the Republicans leaving this House, this floor. These people want to go to work. They are losing, in the next 2 weeks, their unemployment benefits. What will become of them? What will become of those 971 people, including 141 veterans who have fought, who have been wounded? What is going to become of them? [[Page H7621]] Joining me today are my colleagues on the Democratic side. I would like to start with my colleague from Illinois, General Bill Enyart, who is now a Member of the House of Representatives.

    Bill, please join us.

    Mr. ENYART. Thank you, Mr. Garamendi.

    I am privileged to represent the people of southwestern Illinois, that swath of the great State running along the Mississippi River from just north of St. Louis, from Alton, Illinois, all the way south to Cairo. And those 12 counties of southern Illinois, southwestern Illinois, were once an industrial powerhouse.

    It was said four decades ago, five decades ago, if you wanted to work, go to East St. Louis, Illinois, and there will be a job for you there. There were jobs in the steel mills. There were jobs in the packing houses. There were jobs in the stove foundries in Belleville. There were jobs in the coal mines of southern Illinois. Those jobs are, by and large, gone today.

    There are a few bright spots. U.S. Steel has a plant in Granite City that is still pouring steel. Alton Steel in Alton, Illinois, has reopened. A local entrepreneur bought it, and they are pouring steel in Alton again.

    But, you know, those jobs in the packing houses are gone. The jobs in the aluminum industry, those jobs are gone. And that is why they call it the rust belt, because so many of those factories are closing and rusting away.

    Technology has changed a lot of that, and we need to adapt to that technology. And to that end, the assistant minority leader, Mr. Steny Hoyer, along with Mr. Garamendi and myself, introduced the JOBS Act. The JOBS Act is sitting here. It needs to be acted upon. We can't get the leadership to act upon it. But we introduced this JOBS Act, and we introduced it because there are really four priority areas that are central to achieving manufacturing growth in this country again: First of all, we need to have a national manufacturing strategy. Other countries have it. We need to have one. We need to have a strategy that pushes our manufacturing; Secondly, we need to promote the export of U.S.-made goods; Thirdly, we need to encourage businesses to bring jobs and bring innovation back to the shores of our country; and Lastly, we need to train and secure a 21st century workforce.

    And that is really what the JOBS Act does. That act invests in our future. It invests in our infrastructure, our human infrastructure, the people who drive those machines and the people who drive our economy.

    And it was interesting that Mr. Garamendi mentioned food stamps. I want to talk about food stamps for just a minute because far too many people in my district survive on food stamps.

    Something like over 60 percent of the people on food stamps are children. It is not people who aren't working because they don't want to be working. Sixty percent are children who are in low-income families. And the bulk of the adults who are on food stamps are working adults, and they are working in minimum wage jobs. They are working in fast-food restaurants. They are working in other minimum wage jobs. And you can't raise a family in southern Illinois on a minimum wage job.

    We need to have jobs that pay a living wage with good health insurance, with good fringe benefits that provide a living wage for families. When you do that, what happens? You don't have people on food stamps. You don't have people on unemployment. You, instead, have people who are paying taxes. You have people who are spurring the economy. You have people who are buying new pickup trucks and new curtains for the living room and so on and so forth, and that generates an economy that generates good jobs.

    Now, to talk about the JOBS Act that Mr. Garamendi, Mr. Hoyer, and I introduced, what does it do? It is designed to support advanced manufacturing. Now, why do we want to support advanced manufacturing? We want to support advanced manufacturing because--there was an article in The Wall Street Journal just the other day. I have it right here, The Wall Street Journal, the journal of American business. Manufacturing jobs pay nearly 40 percent more than other jobs in our Nation's economy. That is why we need advanced manufacturing.

    So our bill--Mr. Garamendi's bill, my bill, Mr. Hoyer's bill--would amend the Workforce Investment Act to provide targeted investment to partnerships with community colleges, local workforce investment boards, and advanced manufacturing firms to design and implement education and training programs for current and prospective workers.

    Now, currently, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College program does provide some funding for that type of thing; but, unfortunately, there is no assurance for investments in advanced manufacturing, and that is where we need to go in this Nation. What we need to do is to align the training opportunities for those advanced manufacturing firms, for their needs, for adaptability in the training of workers.

    I toured the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis.

    Mr. GARAMENDI. I have one of those in my district, too.

    Mr. ENYART. I toured that brewery a couple of weeks ago, and the brewery manager told me that, in 1999, they had 3,500 hourly employees. And those were good jobs. Those are good jobs. Anybody can tell you that if you work union work, a brewery job working for Anheuser-Busch, that was a job you would have for your entire life. That would be a great career for a working man.

    {time} 1700 That would be a great career for a working man. Today, they are down from 3,500 to 785 jobs. Now that is due largely due to improved technology, and they simply didn't need that many workers anymore. But that displacement of workers has happened throughout our economy, and it has happened in other areas of our economy, in addition to breweries.

    So we need to grow the kind of advanced manufacturing jobs, and we need to have the workers who have the skill to move up so they are not working in those minimum-wage jobs and getting food stamps and Medicaid and those other government programs. Instead, we need people who are paying money in, and that is what our jobs bills does.

    I know that Mr. Garamendi, Mr. Hoyer, and I want that bill to come to a vote. We believe that bill would pass with a resounding bipartisan vote if simply the leadership would allow it to be brought to the floor for a vote.

    Advanced manufacturing is growing in this country. It is increasing, but the problem is it is not growing fast enough.

    When we look at our economy over the last 5 years since President Obama won election the first time, we lost 5 million jobs when he was first elected, virtually immediately, and we have been growing those jobs back at 200,000 a month, 200,000 a month, 195,000 a month. We need to grow them back faster, and we can do that with this JOBS Act.

    With that, I yield back to my partner and friend here, Mr. Garamendi.

    Mr. GARAMENDI. Thank you very much, General Enyart.

    Joining us also is another Representative from the Midwest who has considerable experience here in the House of Representatives--Ohio, in this case--Marcy Kaptur.

    Welcome. I am delighted you are with us. You talked about making it in America and about American jobs many times, and we have shared this floor on that subject in the past.

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