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Kline Statement: H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Men and women across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Many have lost a job and others are working more for less. Learning a new skill or trade can open the door to that next opportunity a worker desperately needs, yet too often flawed policies stand in the way.

Quite frankly our nation’s job training system is broken. We have too many ineffective programs, too much bureaucracy, and very little accountability; the voices of job creators are stifled, state and local leaders are tied up in red tape, and hard-earned taxpayer dollars are wasted.

We’ve known about these problems for years, but have failed to act – until now. We have an opportunity to advance reforms that will help all Americans compete and succeed in today’s workforce.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is based on four principles necessary for a modern, efficient, and effective job training system.

First, the bill streamlines a confusing maze of federal programs and mandates. Let’s make it easier for workers to access the support they need to get back to work.

Second, the bill promotes skills training for in-demand jobs. It’s time to prepare workers for the jobs of the future, not the jobs of the past.

Third, the bill will reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and administrative costs. We need to stop squandering money on a bloated bureaucracy and start ensuring these limited resources go to workers in need.

Fourth and finally, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides strong accountability over the use of taxpayer dollars. We will know whether the taxpayer investment is paying off and impose real consequences when a program isn’t getting the job done.

Last year, the House passed job training reform legislation known as the SKILLS Act. The bill incorporated these principles and I am pleased they are reflected in the bipartisan, bicameral agreement before us today. Is this a perfect solution? No, it’s not. In some areas I wish we could have done more.

But will this agreement protect taxpayers and deliver the kind of employment support workers need to get back on their feet? I believe it will and urge my colleagues to support it.

Before closing Mister Speaker, I’d like to thank some of my colleagues who helped make this possible.

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, chair of the workforce training subcommittee, is without a doubt the leading champion for a stronger, more accountable workforce development system.

Representative George Miller, senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee, is no stranger to this issue and remains a tireless advocate for America’s workers.

I am grateful for the leadership of Senators Tom Harkin and Lamar Alexander, the chairman and ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and hope this is one of many bicameral compromises we reach this year.

I’d also like to thank Representative Buck McKeon, former chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, as well as Representatives Ruben Hinojosa and Joe Heck.

And last but not least, Senator Patty Murray, and my good friend, Senator Johnny Isakson, were both instrumental in our work.

Finally Mister Speaker, we wouldn’t be here today without the hard work of our staff. The majority and minority staffs of the relevant House and Senate committees put in more hours than they care to remember.

Unfortunately, there isn’t time to recognize them all; however, a few stand out on our side of the aisle that merit mention.

Juliane Sullivan, the committee’s staff director, is a trusted advisor who helped us navigate the choppy waters that arose along the way.

Brad Thomas helped ensure the bill addresses the unique needs of Americans with disabilities.

James Bergeron, our former director of education policy, left the committee before this compromise was announced, but his knowledge and expertise are present on every page of this agreement.

And finally, Rosemary Lahasky, whose passion and dedication kept this effort moving forward when it seemed like it couldn’t get done. There simply aren’t enough words to describe Rosemary’s incredible contribution. We are all grateful for her service.