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Public Statements

Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
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Mr. ROKITA. Madam Chair, I thank Chairman Kline and Representative Foxx for their work and their leadership on this bill.

The Workforce Investment Act is long overdue for reauthorization, especially given the monumental changes to our economy over the past 10 years since the law was last authorized. There are many important reasons to do so, including cutting waste and improving efficiency, but the most important reason to me is the moral one. Quite simply, the existing maze of Federal workforce training programs is failing those whom it is intended to be serving. By trying to be all things to all people, the Federal workforce training program is serving no one well, and that's a problem.

The Federal Government's footprint has gotten far too large, and our national debt has grown with it. As a result, it is failing to serve the workforce of today, and it's piling up ever-larger bills for the children of tomorrow, people who don't even exist yet.

What the SKILLS Act does is to consolidate and eliminate many unnecessary and duplicative programs, not simply for the sake of downsizing, but to improve the quality of the workforce training, and that's what we all should be about, Republicans and Democrats alike.

Business owners understand this. They understand the importance of streamlining and efficiency. They also understand the importance of getting a good return on their investment, and we aren't getting that right now. We have to make sure that the Federal Government abides by those same principles. In addition to consolidating existing programs, which the SKILLS Act does, it's important for us to make sure that we are actually recovering savings and reducing the deficit as well. We can do both things at once, my friends.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to work with Ms. Foxx and the chairman to include an important provision that will take the next step and reduce the amount of employees at the Department of Labor in line with reducing the programs.

The bill gives the director of OMB 60 days to identify how many full-time equivalent employees work on or administer programs that have been eliminated or consolidated. The director would then have a year to reduce the Federal Government's workforce by that same number.

Jobs that have the most value are jobs in the private sector, the productive sector, and to the extent we need jobs in the public sector, they should be to truly support and grow the private sector in a responsible way.

Quite simply, if the programs no longer exist, then there is no reason for extra Federal Government bureaucrats. While many of these Federal employees are not doubt very committed to their work, it is immoral for us to borrow more money from our children and grandchildren to pay for unnecessary expenses today. The Department of Labor may exist to serve our workforce, but it is not supposed to be a jobs program in and of itself. The legislation before us is a strong step in the right direction and will not only shrink the Federal Government and reduce our debt, but will ensure that we are delivering better results for America's workforce. By actually reducing the Federal Government's employment rolls, we will be restoring more local control. And, perhaps more importantly, will be making smarter use of America's tax dollars. So I encourage my colleagues to support this legislation for that, and also the common performance measures that are included in this.

One of my constituents, a small business owner, Jim Cramp, serves on one of the workforce investment boards.

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