WASHINGTON, D.C. | January 24, 2017
Allow me to begin by extending a warm welcome to all of our colleagues. As is always the case, there are many familiar faces and some new faces. We are fortunate to have a strong team, and I look forward to working with each and every one of you as we advance reforms to strengthen our nation’s schools and workplaces.
In recent years, the committee has built a strong record of success. Together, we reformed K-12 education, repaired a broken workforce development system, improved vital services for older Americans and working families with young children, provided a long-term solution on student loan interest rates, helped protect the most vulnerable victims of the opioid epidemic, and much more.
We also worked diligently to hold the federal government accountable for how it spends taxpayer dollars and for the rules and regulations it imposes on the American people. In fact, during the last eight years, many of us have raised repeated concerns with misguided regulatory schemes that affect practically every aspect of American life.
We have confronted new rules that limit opportunities for lower-skilled workers to climb the economic ladder, restrict access to affordable retirement advice, micromanage the decisions of state and local education leaders, and empower union leaders at the expense of workers and employers.
The consequences of this extreme and partisan regulatory agenda is an economy stuck in neutral, where job growth is sluggish, wages are largely flat, college costs continue to rise, and health care costs continue to soar. The American people deserve better, and they demanded better last November.
Working with the new administration, we will roll back the regulatory onslaught that has been crushing families and small businesses. We will do everything we can to undo the damage that has been done. We will also work to advance positive legislative solutions as we tackle some of our nation’s toughest challenges.
For example, we will take steps to strengthen career and technical education. CTE has helped countless students gain the knowledge and skills they need to compete in the workforce. We came close last year to enacting reforms that would provide states more flexibility, reduce administrative burdens, improve accountability, and better ensure students are prepared for in-demand jobs. It is my hope we will finish this important work in the coming months.
We also intend to take early action to help vulnerable youth get on the pathway to success by improving the juvenile justice system. Furthermore, we will continue our efforts to make higher education more accessible and affordable, deliver a patient-centered health care system that provides better access to affordable coverage, and help more Americans retire with financial security and peace of mind.
These and other important priorities will expand opportunities for students to learn and for Americans to climb the economic ladder. Indeed, expanding opportunity for all Americans will be at the center of everything we do in the weeks and months ahead. A new Congress and new administration mark a new beginning for this great country. We face an historic opportunity. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and to seize this opportunity.
Before yielding to the Ranking Member for his opening remarks, I would like to introduce to the committee our new Republican members:
• Representative Jason Lewis of Minnesota;
• Representative Francis Rooney of Florida;
• Representative Paul Mitchell of Michigan;
• Representative Tom Garrett of Virginia;
• Representative Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania; and finally,
• Representative Drew Ferguson of Georgia.
Again, welcome to our new colleagues. We are delighted to have you with us and look forward to working with you in the 115th Congress.
# # #