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Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROE of Tennessee. I thank the chairman.

Madam Chair, today, there are more than 12 million Americans who are out of work. These lives are on hold until the economy gets better--provided that we here in Washington can stop ourselves from taxing, borrowing, spending, and regulating it to a standstill. But even in this time of economic uncertainty, there are 3.6 million job openings in this country that remain unfilled--unbelievable when you have 12 million people out of work.

I support the bill on the floor today, H.R. 803, the SKILLS Act, because it will help give some of our neighbors the sense of dignity and satisfaction that only comes from a hard day's work done well.

This legislation will help to bridge the gap between unemployment and work in three significant ways. First, the SKILLS Act will ensure that workers can access job training programs immediately, eliminating the need to navigate a complicated bureaucracy. By cutting through the red tape, we can get workers trained and back into the workforce more quickly.

At the same time, this bill removes some of the burdens on State and local officials by repealing 19 mandates that impact who can serve on workforce training boards, the entities that oversee local job training programs.

Second, the SKILLS Act will require State and local leaders to use common performance measures to measure the quality of services offered to workers. This will ensure that there's accountability in workforce training programs, ensuring a good return on taxpayer dollars.

The bill also empowers job creators by requiring that two-thirds of workforce board members are from the business community. Giving more say to the people who know the needs of their businesses and the local economy is just plain good common sense.

Finally, the SKILLS Act will ensure that taxpayers are seeing a good return on investment by eliminating or streamlining 35 ineffective or duplicative Federal programs. It also gives Governors additional flexibility to further consolidate any additional employment and job training programs at the State and local level to ensure efficiency and cut waste.

Let me just, Madam Chair, go through a few of these. We talk about duplicative programs. This will help consolidate some of these. These are the names of the programs: Reintegration of Ex Offenders; Grants to States for Training for Incarcerated Individuals; Second Chance Act Prisoner Reentry Initiative. It looks to me like we could have one program for all of these.

Let me read a few more: Refugee and Entrant Assistance--Targeted Assistance Grants; Refugee and Entrant Assistance--Social Services Program; Refugee and Entrant Assistance--Targeted Assistance. And I could go on and on with 35 programs. We heard our chairman speak that one in five actually completes one of these programs here.

Let me just tell you what happens in our State of Tennessee. Every Tennessean is within 1 hour of a technology center. These are all across our State. Even in today's economy, with the economy being what it is and hard to find a job, 90 percent of these people get a job, are hired right now today, not one in five.


Mr. ROE of Tennessee. I thank the chairman for yielding.

I wanted to finish by saying there are things that work today out here--today--that we can emulate. And we need to streamline this. You should read all these 35. I agree with Ranking Member Miller. We do need to reform these, and that's what this is an attempt to do. I want to commend Dr. Foxx and Chairman Kline for the leadership on this issue, and I encourage my colleagues to support this bill.


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