WASHINGTON, D.C. | January 22, 2013 -
Good morning. I’m pleased to welcome our new and returning members and staff to the first meeting of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. We’re here this morning to approve the committee’s rules, oversight plan, and subcommittee makeup for the 113th Congress. Additionally, this meeting provides an opportunity to outline our goals and priorities for the months ahead.
With 12 million Americans still struggling to find jobs, job creation remains at the forefront of the committee’s agenda. We will continue our efforts to ensure federal policies don’t get in the way of employers’ efforts to do what they do best: create jobs and invest in our economy.
We will also resume our work to improve the nation’s job training system – helping employers find the skilled workers needed to grow their businesses and providing unemployed Americans access to important training opportunities. Additionally, we will continue to discuss the state of the nation’s higher education system, and explore ways we can enhance transparency, help families better understand the college investment, and enact a long-term solution that will better align student loan interest rates with the free market.
As in the 112th Congress, reauthorizing No Child Left Behind remains a top priority. As my friend Mr. Miller recently stated, “NCLB is outdated and is restraining schools from making the kinds of innovative improvements needed to benefit students.” It is our shared responsibility to craft thoughtful policies that will enhance state and local control, encourage innovation and flexibility, and end the administration’s convoluted waivers scheme, which Ranking Member Miller fittingly dubbed a “patchwork of state systems and temporary relief.”
I also expect we will have a robust conversation in the coming weeks about ways to better protect our children in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. I look forward to working with each of you as we explore policies that will help prevent future violence in our schools.
In previous Congresses, we have applauded the committee’s ability to disagree without being disagreeable. While we managed to do so again in the last Congress, it’s time we focused less on polite disagreements and more on forging commonsense agreements.
This committee has jurisdiction over a number of laws in need of reauthorization, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Workforce Investment Act, the Education Sciences Reform Act, and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act – just to name a few. Several others, such as the Higher Education Act and provisions in federal law affecting multiemployer pension plans, are set to expire in the next few years.
We had many productive conversations last Congress about several of these laws, and it is time to finish the job. This will require hard work from this committee, and it will require compromise and leadership from our colleagues in the Senate and the White House. It is my hope that over the next two years, we can rise to the challenges we face and complete the work the American people sent us here to do.
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