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Mr. CICILLINE. I thank the gentleman from California for yielding.
I rise today in strong opposition to the so-called SKILLS Act, H.R. 803, a bill that would fail to live up to our responsibility to job seekers, businesses, and working men and women across our country. I served as mayor of the city of Providence for 8 years and saw closely what excellent workforce boards do in my home State.
Right now, we should be doing everything we can to put our Nation back to work and offer assistance to folks who are struggling to find employment; but, unfortunately, this highly partisan bill does just the opposite. It would block-grant and effectively eliminate 35 programs, including programs that help dislocated workers, veterans, disabled workers, and other disadvantaged populations, putting these individuals at high risk of losing access to services. And even though funding for the Workforce Investment Act has been cut in half since 2001, this radical proposal would freeze investments in job training and other workforce investment services for 7 years.
Mr. Hinojosa, Mr. Miller, and Mr. Tierney have offered a commonsense alternative that will create strategic partnerships with employers, community colleges, labor unions, and nonprofits to find new jobs and careers for working families. The Democratic alternative would expand the central role of community colleges in job training by authorizing $8 billion for President Obama's Community College to Career Fund to help community colleges recognize credentials so that students will graduate with job training that meets the needs of employers. It would also better serve high-poverty areas with effective services by creating innovation funds to expand the use of promising strategies for adults and young people.
Ladies and gentlemen, our country is facing serious economic challenges, and we need a serious solution like that offered in the Workforce Investment Act. I urge my colleagues to oppose H.R. 803 and support the Democratic alternative to enact real workforce reform that will put Americans back to work.
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