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    Providing for Consideration of H.R. 803, Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act

    by Former Representative Rush Holt

    Posted on 2013-03-14

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    HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Colorado, and I rise in opposition to the rule and the underlying bill of the so-called SKILLS Act.

    Fifteen years ago, before I was in Congress, I watched with great interest as Congress, House and Senate, Democrat and Republican, worked on worker training and produced the Workforce Investment Act. I was impressed. This was the kind of thing that Congress should be doing. It was the kind of thing that made me look forward to the prospect of maybe going to Congress some day.

    I remember David Broder, then the dean of Washington journalists, wrote a column saying this is exactly the kind of thing that Congress should be doing--and they were doing it in a bipartisan way.

    And here we are today, 15 years later, with an ideological, partisan dead end.

    Now, let me make it clear: workforce investment is what Congress needs to do. The government plays an important role in training and fostering a strong and capable workforce.

    The so-called SKILLS Act does not invest in the workforce. Rather, it seeks to combine and reduce vital programs that workers need.

    As a member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, I, along with others, sought to help to develop and update an efficient, fair program that would help eager workers get the right training and get the right jobs. We had some good ideas to contribute. Some of them had been tested in my home State of New Jersey.

    We had some strong evidence that some of the programs that Representative Foxx's version had canceled, or sought to cancel, should be improved and retained. We had good legislative language for the majority party to consider, and we were rebuffed. Our efforts were in vain.

    American workers are now caught in the middle of this partisan, ideological effort. Individuals with disabilities, the disadvantaged, high-risk youth, veterans cannot afford to be abandoned by the majority party's proposal.

    It was interesting that the author of this bill said, well, only 6.8 percent of the SNAP participants use the workforce training. Oh, so 3 million people we can forget about. Is that the implication of that? No, I think the implication should be we should expand it to even more. We need to work together to provide our Nation's job seekers with the resources and the training they need to obtain and maintain quality employment. The underlying partisan ``consolidate it and then cut it bill'' will keep people out of work, not put them back to work.

    I urge the defeat of the rule so that we can have something more bipartisan, and I urge defeat of the bill.

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