The U.S. House of Representatives today passed H.R. 803, the SKILLS Act, legislation that would consolidate federal workforce development programs. While the SKILLS Act is intended to combine and cut duplicative, ineffective programs, the bill targets the current, successful tribal program that is a significant funding source for employment training initiatives in Alaska and throughout the country.
Included in the final passage of the SKILLS Act was an amendment authored by Rep. Young and cosponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), that will guarantee workforce development funding is set aside for Alaska Native, Native American, and Native Hawaiian grants.
"Alaska Native, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian populations often rank at the bottom of labor related categories like income, education, and unemployment rate," Rep. Young said. "Since 1998, America's Native peoples have relied on crucial funding through the Workforce Investment Act to provide the necessary resources to educate their workforce and help reverse these trends. My amendment would guarantee that tribal funding continues."
Rep. Tom Cole( R-OK): "Nobody has fought harder, or worked longer for Native peoples in this chamber then my good friend from Alaska, and the fact that we would guarantee this I think is an important recognition of how difficult the circumstances are for much of the Native population in this country."
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI): "I'd like to give thanks to Representative Don Young, Tom Cole and Representative Noem for offering this very important amendment. The Hawaii members have had a long relationship with Alaska on Native issues and I look forward to that great relationship continuing."