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Rhetoric vs. Action: State of the Union Promises and the House Republican Agenda

Last night, President Obama laid out his vision for the country in his State of the Union address. While many of the plans and promises sounded oddly familiar, House Republicans have been working for months to turn the president’s rhetoric into action on behalf of students, workers, and employers. 

Strengthening Job Training Assistance 

President’s Rhetoric: “And I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people like Jackie have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help that they need.”

Republican Action: Today, more than 47 separate job training programs are spread across nine federal agencies, creating a bureaucratic mess that undermines support for workers and wastes taxpayer resources. Recognizing this crisis in our nation’s workforce investment system, House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans have made job training reform a top priority. In December, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act (H.R. 3610), legislation that consolidates dozens of programs into four flexible funding streams. The legislation is one part of the committee’s larger effort to strengthen job training assistance. 

Keeping Jobs in the United States

President’s Rhetoric: “Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.” 

Republican Action: A key part of any employer’s success is deciding where to open a business and hire workers. Yet last year, the National Labor Relations Board tried to tell a private employer where it could and could not create work. A survey by the National Association of Manufacturers found this abuse of authority by a federal agency threatened the hiring decisions of 60 percent of manufacturers. House Republicans took action and passed with bipartisan support the Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act (H.R. 2587). This commonsense proposal prevents the activist NLRB from dictating the location of American jobs. Despite widespread support from the nation’s job creators, this important legislation continues to await action in the United States Senate.

Raising the Bar on K-12 Education

President’s Rhetoric: Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. And in return, grant schools flexibility: to teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.” 

Republican Action: Every child deserves to be inspired by a great teacher, just as every student deserves access to a quality education. House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans recently introduced two draft legislative proposals that empower parents, teachers, and state and local leaders to build superior schools and improve student achievement.  

The policies outlined in the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act will replace the existing federal K-12 accountability system with state-developed and implemented accountability systems. The legislation will also support locally developed teacher evaluations based on student learning, and approaches such as performance pay and alternative paths to certification to help recruit and keep the most effective educators in our schools. Additionally, the proposals will support additional flexibility in the use of federal education funds, protecting taxpayer investments by ensuring state and local leaders’ have the ability to dedicate federal resources to the most effective initiatives.  

Keeping Higher Education Within Reach

President’s Rhetoric: Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down.” 

Republican Action: Helping students realize the dream of higher education is a goal shared by Republicans and Democrats alike – however, it cannot be accomplished solely at the federal level. Colleges and universities must do their part to lessen the burden for students. Last year, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Republicans called on leaders in higher education to continue exploring ways to ensure a more affordable college education remains available for American students. Additionally, we continue to support increased transparency in the reporting of college costs while working to remove burdensome federal regulations that could leverage higher costs on postsecondary institutions. 

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