WASHINGTON, D.C. | June 27, 2012 -
Pursuant to House Rule 11, we are here today to consider the third quarter committee activities report. This report outlines the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s progress in meeting key priorities.
Since the 112th Congress convened, this committee has held 67 hearings and logged well over 100 hours analyzing a range of policies and programs to determine whether they are serving the best interests of students, workers, and taxpayers. We have explored the state of the nation’s education system, examined the consequences of the health care law, vetted a range of federal policies affecting workplaces and families, and considered how we can support a stronger economic recovery and help put more Americans back to work.
One of the committee’s top priorities has been advancing legislation to rewrite No Child Left Behind. After more than a year of bipartisan discussions on the challenges facing our nation’s education system, I’m pleased the committee took action in February to approve two pieces of legislation that will raise the bar for student achievement. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as these proposals move through the House and Senate.
Just as we dedicated significant time to improving the K-12 education system, the committee has also worked to strengthen postsecondary education. Earlier this year, a bipartisan majority in the House approved Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx’s legislation to eliminate two problematic higher education regulations that pile unnecessary costs on colleges and students. Additionally, we continue to call attention to regulations and policies that may increase federal intrusion in academic affairs and make it more difficult for colleges to offer a quality education at an affordable price.
The committee has also played an integral role in advancing legislation to prevent a scheduled increase on new subsidized Stafford Loans made to undergraduate students – without raising taxes or adding to the deficit. While final details remain to be worked out in the Senate, I expect Congress will resolve this issue in advance of the July 1 deadline, at which point we ought to begin working on a market based solution to the interest rate problem.
Of course, after 40 months of unemployment above eight percent it will take a lot more than a lower interest rate on student loans for Americans to feel confident about the future. They need a strong economy, one in which young people can find a good job out of college – or access the education necessary to begin a successful career in a high-demand field – even without a traditional postsecondary degree.
For this reason, the committee has been working to address the problems plaguing our nation’s workforce investment system – problems the president himself has acknowledged. By approving the Workforce Investment Improvement Act earlier this month, the committee took an important step toward better connecting workers with opportunities to gain the skills they need to fill available jobs – thereby enabling employers to grow their businesses and, in turn, our economy.
Helping our nation’s workers gain important job skills goes hand in hand with the committee’s efforts to ensure employers have the certainty they need to hire new workers. Unfortunately, President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board has pushed forward numerous initiatives that continue to burden employers, limit employee opportunities, and perpetuate instability in the workplace. The Specialty Healthcare decision, the complaint against Boeing, and concerns about ambush elections remain the subject of committee scrutiny in the form of letters, hearings, and outreach. This oversight will continue throughout the 112th Congress.
Finally, we are all aware the Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision tomorrow on the constitutionality of the president’s health care law. This law – including its controversial employer mandate – has been the subject of much debate. In numerous hearings, the committee has listened to job creators, state leaders, and average Americans describe how they have been harmed by this government takeover of health care, and amplified their stories in an effort to hold the administration accountable for this egregious law.
Regardless of the Supreme Court’s verdict, I expect the committee will continue to investigate the health care law and conduct comprehensive oversight of the administration’s actions following the decision. Further, the committee will maintain support for sensible proposals to lower the cost of health care and increase access to affordable health insurance coverage.
While we may not always agree, I am pleased with the progress we have made to address the challenges facing classrooms and workplaces and look forward to continuing our work in the coming months.
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