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Public Statements

Congressional Black Caucus

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. LEE of California. Thank you very much. Let me begin my thanking my friend and colleague, the gentlewoman from Ohio, Congresswoman Fudge, for anchoring once again tonight's Congressional Black Caucus' special hour.

We are talking tonight about job creation and the economy. Every Monday the House of Representatives is in session, we hold Special Orders so that we can bring attention to some of the most pressing issues confronting our country that often really don't make headlines. And so I have to thank Congresswoman Fudge once again for her leadership and for leading these Special Orders, because this continues to keep our caucus and the entire country focused on the critical issues that sometimes do not receive the type of attention, really, that they should receive and, also, really puts forth what the agenda is of the Congressional Black Caucus.

As chair of the CBC, I rise once again this evening sounding the alarm for the urgent and vital need to create jobs in America. We have to create jobs in our communities that have disproportionately suffered the brunt of this economic crisis and who, as a result, are in desperate need of targeted, concrete, and meaningful relief.

For many months now, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been and continue to be laser focused on stimulating the economy and creating jobs, particularly for the chronically unemployed. We have sought to engage the Obama administration, our House and Senate leadership, committee chairs, and our coalition partners to develop a legislative strategy to address the needs of millions of Americans who are struggling in this tough, economic environment.

Last week we tried but this week I hope we will pass H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act. This includes funding for summer youth jobs and emergency assistance for needy families. These provisions will target resources to communities with the most urgent need for help.

Over the past several months, we have worked to develop a job creation strategy that will address needs of the chronically unemployed, and one of our top priorities has been the creation of a summer youth jobs program for America's youth.

The Congressional Black Caucus met with President Obama, and we raised the importance of the summer jobs program to address the huge unemployment rate among young people. We need this targeted assistance to help put our young people to work and to teach them an array of valuable job skills that they can use throughout their life but, even more importantly at this point, in many of our communities and in our districts, many of our young people have to help their families just survive. They have to help pay the rent and put food on the table.

While the most recent job reports issued at the beginning of May show the overall teen unemployment rate dropping significantly, African American and Latino teens remain unemployed at significantly higher rates than their white peers. African American and Latino teens are unemployed at 37.3 percent and 29.2 percent respectively, compared to an overall national rate of 23.5 percent. These figures underscore the urgent need for this legislation and for the United States Senate to quickly follow. We know that these jobs and the jobs initiative provisions in these bills will help all young people.

Due to this recession and due to parents being unemployed, again, our young people have a critical role to play now in terms of just the stability of their families. Studies have shown also that teenage joblessness has many long-term consequences. Young people who fail to find early jobs are more likely to be unemployed, are underemployed into their 20s and permanently, mind you, trapped at the margins of the economy.

So I urge all of us to support H.R. 4213 and get this passed. This bill will also provide critical tax cuts and support for American workers through the end of this year. Some of the other provisions included in this legislation would provide tax relief to businesses and State and local governments to help them invest and to create jobs, provide important tax cuts to put money back into the pockets of working families, and help restore the flow of credit to enable small businesses to expand and hire new workers by extending small business loan programs. This bill also expands career training for Americans who are looking for work. It extends eligibility for the unemployed who need the unemployment insurance benefits, also COBRA, the health care tax credits, and other critical programs that families and communities depend on through these hard economic times. This, and sometimes I call it the survival package, which is what it is, helps families maintain and only maintain until they can get back on their feet and also until we can do more in terms of creating some real good paying and sustainable jobs.

This bill also ensures that seniors and military servicemembers and Americans with disabilities continue to have access to doctors that they know and trust. Also, it closes tax loopholes for wealthy investment fund managers and foreign operations of multinational corporations.

So we need to consider this bill quickly. We also need to look at Chairman Miller's bill, which is called the Local Jobs for America Act, because many of the provisions that the Congressional Black Caucus has been championing are included in that bill also.

In the Miller bill we target funding to community-based organizations serving communities with poverty rates of 12 percent and-or unemployment rates that are 2 percent or more than the national average. We provide for on-the-job training for thousands seeking new skills for a new economy. In many of our districts throughout the country, even if we created jobs, our workforce may or may not have the requisite skills and

may not have the preparation and the job training for those jobs because they have been undereducated, they have not had the type of resources, and have been chronically unemployed for many, many years. And so we need to have on-the-job training and workforce training as part of any comprehensive jobs package.

Also in the Miller bill we target communities that are hit hardest by the recession, and we support programs that train, retrain, and hire teachers, law enforcement officers, and firefighters. So this bill that we are working on and talking about tonight, H.R. 4213, is building a foundation. It is an excellent first step, but we must move forward and have a comprehensive jobs bill to invest in people, invest in our workers, provide for worker training and retraining, apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship programs, but also direct investment in job creation efforts.

I want to thank once again my colleague from Ohio for sounding the alarm. Certainly in Ohio we have witnessed an economic downturn that is hard to imagine with the foreclosure crisis, the loss of jobs, outsourcing, the lack of health care. I know Ohio has really gone through some very difficult times.

In my own State of California we are facing a huge budget deficit. People are being cut. Of course, unfortunately, the safety net is being cut. And so what we need to do here is provide Federal investment in job creation, because this ultimately will help us reduce our deficit, put people back to work, and allow American men and women and families to finally regroup and be part of the American dream.

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