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Donnelly: AMERICA Works Act Could Lay Foundation For Bipartisanship

Republicans, Democrats can agree on increasing workforce

Congress has work to do. Much of this work will require members to find solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing issues. I think we can all agree that our first priority should be our nation’s economic recovery and getting Americans back to work in good-paying, stable jobs.

We may have differing opinions on some of the policies Congress could enact to improve the economy, but we can all agree that Congress should enact legislation that would encourage job growth, get our fiscal house in order and put our economy on a path to continue leading the global economy for generations to come.

One approach I have taken in the 112th Congress was introducing the AMERICA Works Act, which is supported by both Republicans and Democrats and a broad group of businesses, trade associations and educators. If enacted into law, the bill would increase the efficiency and efficacy of federal workforce training programs.

There is a well-publicized skills gap in our manufacturing industry, and access to skilled labor is a repeated concern of manufacturers nationwide.

A report by Deloitte Consulting and the Manufacturing Institute estimates that as many as 600,000 jobs are going unfilled because employers cannot find workers with the skills they need to fill these jobs. AMERICA Works is a common-sense solution to help us close the skills gap and improve Americans’ access to good-paying jobs in the domestic manufacturing industry.

Enacting AMERICA Works into law would place a priority on education and training that results in participants receiving portable, industry recognized credentials. As a result, workers would be confident that they are learning skills that industries and employers need, and employers would be able to more easily identify potential employees with the requisite abilities.

Although AMERICA Works would address a major issue faced by our workers and manufacturing industry, it would not increase federal spending. Instead, it would make federal spending more efficient by making reasonable changes to existing federal programs. With a national debt topping $15 trillion, Congress must focus on policies that can help create jobs and spur economic growth, while also limiting the long-term debt that threatens our economic health. The AMERICA Works Act meets these criteria.

Last month, I led a bipartisan group in calling on the leadership of the House to bring my bill to the floor for a vote. We expressed our belief that AMERICA Works is the kind of legislation that should be among the first considered after the elections, and its passage could set the foundation for a productive and collaborative post-election session.

I hope that by introducing legislation such as AMERICA Works and working with members on both sides of the aisle, as well as industry and training stakeholders, we can begin to practice the bipartisan work our country needs and our constituents deserve.

Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., a member of the Financial Services and Veterans’ Affairs committees, won election to the Senate last week.

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