Supporting the New Jersey National Guard
Last week, the New Jersey National Guard began deploying its members to Fort Bliss in Texas for training and subsequently to Iraq. The deployment of the 2,850 reservists is the largest New Jersey National Guard deployment since the Second World War.
On Tuesday, I met with troops from the 50th Brigade Combat Team at the Lawrenceville Armory. The visit afforded me an opportunity to hear their concerns and to offer my assistance before, during, and after their deployment.
As a U.S. Representative, the best I can offer them is my efforts to ensure that this is their last deployment to Iraq. They also deserve all the support when they return - including a new 21st Century GI Bill that would cover a full four-year college education (which we passed in Congress last week) and increased funding for a range of medical care, including treatment for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
As these men and women leave for another deployment, they deserve the support of the whole community and the whole state - for instance, by caring for their families, by making sure their jobs are protected for their return, and by supporting the work of the NJ National Guard State Family Readiness Council.
Investing in Online Job Training
Last week, I introduced the Online Job Training Act of 2008 to bolster the availability of web-based training programs as part of the Workforce Investment Act. Under the bill, grants would be awarded to states for online job training programs to help workers struggling to fit the training into their responsibilities of work and family. By offering the training online people do not have to go to a job training center.
New Jersey has been a leader in incorporating online education for low-income workers into job training programs. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Rutgers University implemented a successful pilot program that serves as a model for this legislation. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, almost half of children who live in female-headed households live below the poverty line. Offering accessible training to these working mothers not only opens more career opportunities, but also helps struggling single parents provide for their families and lift their children out of poverty.
One New Jersey woman participating in the program took web-based courses at night, as her daughter did homework, and gained certificates in database software that led to a promotion. With the money from the promotion, she was able to start saving to send her daughter to college.
The Equal Pay Act
This month Congress recognized the 45th anniversary of President Kennedy's signing of the Equal Pay Act. At the time of the bill's signing, women earned 58 cents for every dollar men made. By requiring employers to provide equal compensation to female and male employees who conduct the same work, the Equal Pay Act validated the fundamental principle of fairness in the workforce.
The Equal Pay Act played a key role in the growth of women entering the workforce in the last 40 years. At the beginning of the 1960s, 40 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 54 joined the workforce. Today, that number has increased to 75 percent.
While the Equal Pay Act was an important first step in addressing pay inequality between men and women, a disparity remains. Today, women earn 77 cents for every dollar men make. To help realize the vision of the Equal Pay Act, I am a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would enhance the enforcement of prohibitions against wage discrimination, increase the efficacy of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and use better the vast resources of the Department of Labor. The Subcommittee on Workforce Protections of the House Committee on Education and Labor has held a hearing on this legislation and it awaits a vote in Committee.
Member of Congress