As the school year is coming to a close and graduates are looking to join the workforce, there is no better time to review John Kline’s (R-MN-02) progress as Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee.
The major assignment was to reform the No Child Left Behind legislation and the status can best be described as WAITING for Eric Cantor (R-VA-07) and the Republican-managed House to authorize debate and final passage of :
H.R. 1891 SETTING NEW PRIORITIES IN EDUCATION SPENDING ACT
H.R. 2445 STATE AND LOCAL FUNDING FLEXIBILITY ACT
H.R. 3989 STUDENT SUCCESS ACT
H.R. 3990 ENCOURAGING INNOVATION AND EFFECTIVE TEACHERS ACT
Recently, Chairman Kline has observed the Skills Gap which should be a concern to the new graduates, issuing a press release :
“Business owners across the country report they are ready to hire, but cannot find workers with the necessary skills. The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 will revamp the nation’s workforce development system to provide workers with the education and support they need to fill local job openings. Preparing today’s workforce for in-demand jobs is a key component in the fight to rebuild our economy, and I urge my Democrat colleagues to lend their support to this commonsense proposal.”
Chairman Kline’s statement came one day after the release of a report from Change the Equation (CtE) on the growing need for qualified STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) professionals in the American workforce
STEM Jobs Outnumber Unemployed Americans, 2-1
According to CtE’s research, for every one person without a job, there were two STEM-related positions available, underscoring the economically debilitating lack of science and technology skills across the country.
Leading the way among STEM-involved sectors is the health-care industry, with 3.2 current openings for every one job seeker.
By comparison, business and financial occupations left nearly two people unemployed for every one job, while management occupations had one spot for every 2.2 applicants, and administrative support jobs left nearly four people competing for each opening.
Other revealing findings in the report included the high percentage of foreign-born workers employed in STEM as well as the higher-than-average earnings for STEM workers with a bachelor’s degree
That press release was similar to the one issued a month earlier, when Chairman Kline praised President Obama :
“Many employers trying to get their businesses back on track desperately need a trained workforce. Unfortunately, the current bureaucracy governing the nation’s workforce investment system is broken, leaving millions of individuals out of work and employers struggling to succeed,” said Chairman Kline. “President Obama has accurately recognized the need for a better system, but the time to talk about reform is over. The legislation introduced today reflects the reforms our nation needs and the priorities the president outlined earlier this year. I hope the administration and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will work with us to advance this legislation quickly and provide workers and employers the streamlined workforce investment system they need.”
So what’s the status of HR 4297 – The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 ?
There was a subcommittee hearing on April 17 but Chairman Kline has not scheduled the full Committee to vote on the matter. But if it did, it would be up to Majority Leader Cantor to order a vote by the full House.
Majority Leader Cantor has own ideas and released his Summer Legislative Agenda yesterday … outlining what bills would be voted upon and offering praise for Members for their work.
Chairman Kline was not mentioned … essentially, “You are done for the year” … heck, the Majority Leader emphasized the need to approve various Appropriations bills — Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs Appropriations, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, Energy and Water Appropriations, Homeland Security Appropriations, and Legislative Branch Appropriations … stating “Each bill conforms to the overall level of discretionary spending authorized under the House’s FY13 budget resolution and deserves our support.” … apparently funding Education is not a priority … yet, one issue that Majority Leader Cantor wants to resolve is the Post Office. The legislation provides for five-day mail service, increase healthcare and life insurance costs for the employees … and even asking the State of Alaska to pay for not being part of the contiguous 48 states.
So it appears that Chairman Kline’s committee can just take the rest of the year off … but what’s new … for the month of May, the Education and Workforce Committee will hold two subcommittee hearings (May 16 – “Exploring State Success in Expanding Parent and Student Options” and May 31- “Barrier to Lower Health Care Costs for Workers and Employers” ) … that’s it … with a staff of over 30 employees whose salary (without benefits) cost the taxpayers $5,667,861 and yet Chairman Kline can show no accomplishments.
When considering the awards for a DoNothing Congress, Chairman Kline stands out as a clear leader … yet, no doubt once the electioneering begins, Chairman Kline will acknowledge the failures of No Child Left Behind and Workforce Investment yet never mention that the Republican Leadership does not consider them to be a priority.