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Public Statements

Reintroduction of the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to announce that I have reintroduced the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act of 2013. It is my hope that with the reintroduction of this bill, Congress will begin to examine the idea that the federal government has a significant role to play in putting America back to work, especially during our current economic downturn. Noted economists have shown that the private sector alone will not be able to create a full employment economy in the foreseeable future.

The Federal Government must use its full authority and powers to put Americans back to work. In our nation, we have far too many people desperately seeking a full-time job. These people are veterans, construction workers, young men and women, and those who have lost their jobs to unfair foreign competition. We know the financial pressures and personal hardships that result from being unemployed for long periods of time: the loss of one's dignity, housing and food insecurity, loss of health insurance, homelessness, marital problems, and the inability to care for one's self or family.

During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt struck a New Deal that put millions of Americans back to work building roads, schools, community centers, dams, bridges, parks, and electrification systems. In this program, many women were employed constructing blankets for our nation's hospitals, and our troops who fought in World War II.

President Roosevelt was resolute in the idea that every American who wanted a job should be able to have one. I also share this view. Help provide an unemployed man or woman with a job, and their lives come together, and they regain their dignity and sense of self-worth. People just do better when they are working. It is just that simple.

There is no reason why America cannot have a 21st Century New Deal, where unemployed Americans become gainfully employed restoring our communities, assisting people in need, and repairing our crumbling infrastructure. This is what the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act of 2013 seeks to accomplish.

Under the Act, the Department of Labor would work collaboratively with local and state governments, non-profits, and the private-sector to fund community-based ``fast track'' jobs. This work could include renovating housing and schools, weatherizing homes, fixing our aging infrastructure, expanding access to broadband and wireless Internet, neighborhood beautification projects, or other community initiatives in the health and education sectors.

It is apparent to me that the next wave of significant job growth will be in the green jobs and clean energy sectors. The Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act of 2013 would help pay for the training of workers to install solar panels in houses and buildings, or manufacture wind turbines, electric batteries, and electric cars.

Funds could be used to train workers to build roads, bridges, levees, and clean mass transit systems such as electric bus and metro rail cars.

The bill would provide cities and states with the needed funding to pay unemployed inner city youth and adults to rebuild our nation's crumbling and dilapidated schools, housing, and neighborhoods.

There are so many youth whose lives are needlessly ruined, because they cannot envision a future that includes dignified work. I truly believe young people could be steered away from costly lives of crime if they believe they will be able to have a meaningful career. We need more jobs, not jails.

Think about all the unemployed people in America who could be employed in the field of child care, working as preschool teachers, or assisting our nation's seniors and disabled in their own homes.

Under the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act of 2013, there would be a significant increase in funding for job training programs funded under the Workforce Investment Act. Funds would go towards successful programs like the Job Corps, which would be expanded to provide additional job training and job placement opportunities.

Funds would automatically continue to be disbursed from the Act's Full Employment and Training Trust Fund to cities and states, until every American worker who wants a job can find one. Additionally, the act will be fully funded by a tax on Wall Street speculation, and will not add a dime to the federal debt.

I respectfully urge my fellow colleagues on both sides of the isle to consider supporting the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act of 2013. The American people need jobs now.

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