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Leadership & Results Part 1: Empowering Americans to Compete in the Workforce

Under the leadership of Chairman John Kline (R-MN), the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has been working hard on behalf of students, small business owners, teachers, and working families. And by improving education, retirement, job training, and more, the committee has delivered impressive results. This is the first in a series of releases that will look back at some important reforms the committee has advanced under Chairman Kline’s leadership—reforms that will help more Americans pursue a lifetime of success and prosperity.
Committee leaders and then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) visit a workforce development center at Northern Virginia Community College in March 2013.

In 2007, an economic crisis hit that would ultimately destroy millions of jobs and force countless businesses to close their doors. To make matters worse, those who needed help getting back on their feet often had a tough time finding it.

Each year, taxpayers invest billions of dollars in a federal job training system. Rather than find the support, skills, and education they would need to get back in the workforce, many workers encountered a “confusing maze of programs” and a burdensome bureaucracy that measured success by good intentions, not results.

Fixing this broken system, especially as millions were searching for work, should have been a national priority. But it wasn’t. Instead, a job training law—written before Y2K—had expired, and for years, Congress failed to update the law. Meanwhile, the Obama administration failed to deliver on its promise to provide a more streamlined, worker-friendly system. Something had to change, and it finally did.

In 2011, Chairman Kline teamed up with Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the workforce training subcommittee, to make job training reform one of the committee’s leading priorities. Their efforts led to the SKILLS Act—the first comprehensive job training legislation to pass the House in more than a decade.
The bill was designed to put more Americans back to work by:

  • Streamlining a confusing maze of programs and burdensome federal mandates;

  • Promoting skills training for in-demand jobs;

  • Reducing administrative costs and unnecessary bureaucracy; and

  • Delivering strong accountability over the use of taxpayer dollars.

Following the House’s decisive action, Congress ultimately passed the bipartisan, bicameral Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a legislative compromise that embodies the principles and priorities House Republicans have long supported.

When President Obama signed the bill into law in July 2014, Chairman Kline said:

We rejected petty politics and put the best interests of working families first. Now we have a new law that will protect taxpayers and help put more Americans back to work.

Enacting bipartisan job-training reforms was a significant achievement that’s already changing people’s lives. People like David Brewer, a veteran from Michigan who credits workforce training with helping him turn his life around. In David’s own words:

If it weren’t for the WIOA program I don’t know where I would be … Three months ago I was living in my car; now I have a career with multiple job offers, all great paying jobs. I can finally say that I feel I have a bright future.

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