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Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GARRETT. Madam Chair, I want to thank the chairman, and I also want to thank the gentlelady from North Carolina--I'm not sure if she's here right now--for her efforts to make necessary and meaningful changes and reforms to the SKILLS Act.

The Federal Government spends literally billions and billions of dollars on workforce training programs every single year. But in 2011, there was a study done by the GAO, the Government Accountability Office. They found that very little is actually known about the effectiveness of a lot of these programs.

So when we're here at a time of constrained spending and constrained budgets, we have to do everything we can from both sides of the aisle to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and that the recipients of these dollars or the programs actually get an effective program at the end of the day. So the SKILLS Act that's before us now includes provisions mandating--this is good--meaningful evaluations of these very same programs.

But simply mandating that evaluations be done doesn't really guarantee that they will actually be conducted. For example, back in 1998, there was the Workforce Investment Act legislation, and it mandated that the Department of Labor conduct what they called then the gold standard, if you will, of studies, of job training programs, and required that those studies be done by 2005. But here as we stand here now in 2013, those studies still aren't done. In actuality, we checked into it, and they said they will not be completed until the year 2015. That's 10 years later than when the studies were supposed to be completed.

Look, Congress can no longer tolerate the neglect of report deadlines, especially concerning the effectiveness of Federal programs that cost us billions of dollars. And when they're not being done effectively, the people who should be getting the affected programs are not getting the services they perform.

My amendment simply provides an incentive to the Department of Labor to conduct these evaluations on time so we can have the information and the authorizing committees can have the information to do their job, as well. It does neither the taxpayer nor the job seeker any good at all if Congress is funding something that is ineffective.

This amendment will put the executive branch on notice, and Congress is keeping an eye on their performance, and the authorizing committees can also have more information to do their jobs.

With that, I urge support of this amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. GARRETT. I just want to reiterate that we are on the exact same page with our colleagues from the other side of the aisle.

We understand the burdens that the Americans across this country are suffering right now. We understand that the burden and the cuts that we may have to consider in going forward in this country should not fall on the least among us, that they should not fall on those who are without jobs, and that they should not fall on those who are struggling at the bottom and who are trying to get up to the middle class and to an even higher rung after that. We have to work together to make sure that they do not suffer like that, and that's why we have this amendment.

It is to make sure that every single dollar that we pass in this Congress and that every single penny that we spend on a program is an effective dollar, is an effective penny that gets the job done and that lets them rise out of the depths of despair that they are in to a higher level, and we want to make sure that we have effective programs. That's exactly what our amendment would do, and I encourage both sides of the aisle to join in the support of this legislation.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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