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Hearing Recap: Workforce Edition

Yesterday's Education and the Workforce Committee hearing covered the Biden administration’s heavy-handed mandates and out-of-touch regulatory policies that have led to high inflation, shortages in skilled labor, and supply chain disruptions.

The pandemic taught us many valuable lessons, including the importance of a strong and adaptive workforce. For the past two Congresses, Democrats turned a blind eye to employment woes and focused on pet interests and playing politics.

“In response to the single sharpest spike of unemployment in the 21st century, the Democrat-controlled Committee chose to hold hearings in support of closing Main Street small businesses, padding the pockets of Big Labor union bosses, and advocating for increased federal spending in pandemic giveaways,” Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said in her opening statement. She further added, “The economy has not recovered, and workforce participation still lags behind pre-pandemic rates.”

The economic indicators underlying our struggling economy are undeniable. Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY) put it this way: “You can’t lie to the American people about the economy. They live it every day. The truth is, working Americans have fallen 10 years behind in wages - real wages.”

Workers and job creators need policies that encourage hiring and employment in order to restore the nation’s economic might. “The one change that Congress could enact now, that would immediately fill jobs and increase labor force participation of employable and non-disabled adults would be to stop paying Americans not to work,” said Republican-invited witness Stephen Moore, Senior Fellow in Economics at the Heritage Foundation.

Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) pointed out that the witness Democrats decided to invite, Dr. Heidi Shierholz, President of the Economic Policy Institute, has never run a business. Business owners and the middle class are the backbone of the American economy. We should be consulting them on sweeping policies like the PRO Act and not entrusting our economy to government bureaucrats.

Furthermore, Republican witnesses and members clarified the undue burdens of the PRO Act. Republican-invited witness Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, discussed how 350,000 independent contractors in his industry would be impacted if the legislation were enacted. “Every day we’re moving milk, eggs, [and] bread, to vaccines,” said Mr. Spear. “We’re already short 78,000. Now we’re going to exacerbate that number.”

Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA) hammered home the potential negative impact of the PRO Act on his constituents. In an exchange with Democrat witness Dr. Shierholz, Kiley read testimonials from a book containing stories from real independent contractors who have lost their livelihoods due to legislation similar to the PRO Act.

Republicans also discussed potential legislative solutions to the skilled labor shortage, the Save Local Business Act, reauthorizing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and repealing and preventing the creation of onerous regulations. Everyone agreed, clear pathways need to be identified for students to get good-paying jobs upon entering the workforce.

Bottom Line: Committee Republicans are fighting to hold Democrats accountable for their economic record and are prepared to offer legislative solutions.

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