Listen. Learn. Legislate. Those are the goals of House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer’s “Make It In America” agenda.
The Maryland Democrat has been traveling the country to talk to business owners, workers, economic leaders and students about what Congress can do to help them succeed.
From that listening tour, Hoyer and his team say they have learned what kind of legislating voters want them to pursue in three key areas: entrepreneurship, education and infrastructure.
On Monday morning, Hoyer will deliver a speech at WeWork Dupont Circle, a co-working space in Washington, to talk about his listening tour experiences and to outline specific proposals for re-energizing the economy.
“What we heard from the people we met at all those stops was essentially the same: Congress needs to be a partner in enabling our people to get ahead,” he is expected to say, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks.
For example, Hoyer heard from students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire during a stop in early April about the challenges they face in accessing educational opportunities as they prepare to enter the workforce.
Hoyer, reflecting on the trip in an interview Friday, said the students made clear they weren’t expecting to do just one job or even stay in one career field after leaving college.
“They knew that they were going to need ongoing skills training and knowledge training,” he said.
Among the ideas Hoyer will focus on Monday is the concept of what he’s calling “stackable credentials,” providing pathways for students to obtain new skills and training outside of their college degree programs to help them transition between different career fields in the changing economy.
On education, Hoyer will also discuss broadening the use of Pell Grants so they can be accessed by people seeking to obtain technical education outside of traditional four-year college degree programs.
“This has been controversial in the past because we’ve got to make sure that they’re used for skills that are needed and that will in effect will be very helpful in getting people jobs,” Hoyer said.
In the entrepreneurship area, Hoyer will discuss “portable benefits” that will also help people transition between jobs, as well as proposals to ensure people who want to start or expand businesses have access to capital.
The minority whip will also discuss infrastructure funding and innovation. One idea he’ll mention is the need to expand access to high-speed internet and to accelerate the deployment of 5G wireless infrastructure.
Some of the ideas Hoyer will mention are ones that Democrats leading the committees of jurisdiction have already been working on; others they will be looking to refine in the coming months.
“These are not necessarily my ideas, but what they are is an attempt to marshal these ideas towards a focused economic message,” Hoyer said.
The goal is ultimately to develop a package of bills focused on the three areas of the “Make It In America” agenda — entrepreneurship, education and infrastructure — that Democrats can introduce and hopefully bring to the floor next year.
Hoyer said those proposals would complement ones Democrats have already unveiled as part of their “A Better Deal” agenda, which they’ve recently begun rebranding as “For the People.”
“What we want to do is be ready in the next Congress in which we expect to be in charge,” he said.
Hoyer’s speech will lay out not just the specific policy proposals, but his vision for what enactment of those policies could accomplish.
“If we can make Congress a partner again in helping businesses and workers get ahead, we can begin to renew Americans’ faith in government as a force for good,” he is expected to say. “We can renew Americans’ faith that our democratic institutions are strong enough to meet the challenges of the 21st century. And we can continue to make America competitive in global markets.”