As Congress Leaves for Five-Week Recess, House Democrats Vow to Pass Jobs Measure
By Michael Rose
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and other House Democrats, on the eve of a five-week congressional recess, reiterated their commitment to pass legislation intended to boost employment and job training, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
Hoyer spoke at a press conference Aug. 1 held to unveil a slate of additional bills added to the Democrats’ Make It in America agenda, which originally was unveiled in 2010 (144 DLR A-12, 7/28/10). Hoyer also spoke about the plan, which is intended to support the manufacturing sector, in a speech in April (68 DLR A-12, 4/9/13).
“While House Republicans are wasting time on the 40th vote to repeal health care reform–the last vote before we go out for five weeks–a bill that everybody knows has no connection with reality,” Hoyer said. “Democrats remain determined, however, to move jobs legislation through the Congress, and [to keep] the focus on making sure Americans have jobs and that they can make it in America.”
Tax Credits for Employer-Education Partnerships
One of the bills highlighted at the press conference was H.R. 1747, the Workforce Development Investment Act, introduced in April by Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.), which would provide a tax incentive to employers that partner with community colleges or other educational institutions.
Employers would qualify for the credit by helping to shape curriculum, providing classroom instruction, or providing internships or apprenticeships.
Kuster told reporters that she made a habit of visiting employers in her district, and that many had emphasized to her the importance of job training to finding qualified employees.
“Every single visit, the number one issue they bring to me is training and workforce development,” Kuster said.
Most of the other bills highlighted at the press conference are not directly related to employment, but rather have to do with trade, energy policy, or other areas.
WIA Reauthorization Prospects
A reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act, which was enacted in 1998 and has not been reauthorized since, also could get attention in Congress upon its return.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions approved its version of a bipartisan WIA reauthorization bill (S. 1356) July 31 (147 DLR A-15, 7/31/13), while the House passed its version of a workforce development bill in March (51 DLR A-15, 3/15/13).
That measure largely was opposed by Democrats because it would freeze funding levels and eliminate priority of service provisions for underserved populations.
But Hoyer at the latest press conference said differences between the two bills, provided that the Senate passes its version, could be resolved in a conference committee.
“The path forward is obviously doing something the Republicans aren’t doing: going to conference,” Hoyer said, in response to a question from BNA. “There’s a lot of talk about how we want to have a transparent, regular order Congress. We have, of course abandoned transparency, and we have abandoned regular order.”
But Hoyer called it “a positive step forward that the Senate’s passed a bill out of committee.”
Text of H.R. 1747 is available at http://about.bloomberglaw.com/files/2013/08/HR-1747.pdf. Information about the other Make It in American bills is available at http://www.democraticwhip.gov/content/make-it-america-legislation-113th-congress-stronger-economy-through-manufacturing.