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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of H.R. 803, Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LANGEVIN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to the rule and the underlying bill, H.R. 803, the SKILLS Act.

Mr. Speaker, this is the time to be investing in workforce development programs, not slashing them. I especially want to point out that unemployment in Rhode Island remains unacceptably high, yet the skills gap is an employment obstacle we can overcome with the right resources. Workers need proper training to succeed in a global economy, and the Workforce Investment Act programs have helped to do just that.

So it saddens me that the bill before us today cuts so many vital programs just when we need them the most. It freezes investments in job training. It cuts or consolidates 35 critical programs and limits access to services for youth, minorities, older workers, people with disabilities, and veterans--the vulnerable populations that this law was designed to serve.

This bill could also imperil the efforts of organizations making positive strides also in my home State. A prime example of this is the Genesis Adult Education Center in Providence, which receives 20 percent of its total budget from WIA sources and helps some of the most disadvantaged people in our State through job training, child care, and support services. Under the SKILLS Act, the Genesis Center could face a reduction of funding and would be forced to serve fewer Rhode Islanders.

At the Job Corps centers nationwide, enrollment of new students has been suspended, and this bill does nothing to address this problem. For almost 3 years, the Job Corps center in Rhode Island has been unable to enroll new students in job training classes. We should be considering legislation that addresses this challenge and invests in job creation, and this bill falls far short on both counts.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this rule and reject this bill so that we can come together in a bipartisan manner that properly addresses our workforce issues.

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