Speeches & Floor Statements

Floor Speech: Workforce Investment Act

Posted on July 22, 2014

           While the senator from Washington is on the floor, I think it is appropriate to note and congratulate her for her work on the Workforce Investment Act. 

            She and Senator Isakson of Georgia led the effort of Senator Harkin, me, and others in the Senate. Senator Scott of South Carolina was the principal sponsor of the House-passed SKILLS Act.  Senator Enzi of Wyoming had worked for a long time -- and as the Republican leader said, that bill is being signed today by the president of the United States. 

            It goes directly to the issue that most Americans care about.  It is too hard to find a job.  What this process showed was that Republicans and Democrats were able to take the nearly $10 billion that we currently spend on job training to give governors the flexibility to help people develop skills and match job seekers with good jobs in their communities.  I remember our former Democratic governor from Tennessee told me that when he came into office, he threw up his hands when he found out about the $145 million that came to Tennessee through the Workforce Investment Act because it was too complicated.

            Senator Murray, Senator Isakson, and others have worked together with Chairman Kline in the House, and they produced a law that will be signed today.  The Senate is far from functioning the way it ought to.  There is too much talent in the Senate and too many pressing problems in the country for us to be anywhere close to satisfied with the result we are getting.  But the committee upon which the senator from Washington and I serve has done a pretty good job in this Congress.  We reported to the Senate 20 pieces of legislation; 18 of them have passed the Senate, and 14 of them have been signed into law. 

            That may be more than the entire Senate put together. 

            The point is, those are big pieces of legislation.  One is the jobs bill.  That is the issue we care about more than any other. 

            Another was the track-and-trace legislation which makes medicines safer for 4 billion prescriptions.  Senator Burr and Senator Mikulski worked on that. 

            Another was on compounding pharmacies.  It was a terrible problem where we had tainted, sterile injections not being sterile and causing people to catch meningitis and die. 

            Last year another was the student loan program, where we took all the new loans  -- that is $100 billion a year -- and put a market-pricing system on top and took it out of the political football stunt category. 

            All of that has happened on a committee which has, on its left, 12 Democrats, and on its right, 10 Republicans.  We don't agree on everything by a long shot.  But on these issues we came to a result, did the job, and the senator from Washington has been a conspicuous example of looking for opportunities for us to get a result.   

            People expect us to come to the Senate, stand on our principles, but not stop there  -- not stop there  -- and then put our principles together where we can combine those and get a result for the American people.  I am pleased to be a part of that action and I congratulate her for it.               

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