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National Apprenticeship Act of 2020

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 19, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. TRAHAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer my strong support for the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020.

Especially I would like to commend the bill's author, my friend, Representative Susan Davis. It is due to her steadfast and visionary leadership on the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee that we are here today advancing this important and timely legislation. This bill is an apt capstone on her remarkable legacy.

Registered apprenticeships are a tried and true system for preparing our workforce for stable jobs that provide family sustaining wages and benefits. I have seen firsthand how unions have put this tool to excellent use over the years. In fact, just last year I visited the Laborers' training facility in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, where young apprentices are training for careers in construction. The Laborers recognize the importance of this bill, which is why they have endorsed it and urged its passage.

Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record a letter. LiUNA!, Washington, DC, November 18, 2020. House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Dear Representative: I write on behalf of the 500,000 hardworking men and women of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) to ask you to vote for H.R. 8294, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020, when it comes to the House floor for a vote this week. LIUNA is proud to support this important bill to keep our union apprenticeship programs strong.

Registered Apprenticeship Programs, like the ones that LIUNA has had for decades, help workers earn while they learn. H.R. 8294 invests more than $3.5 billion over five (5) years in expanding opportunities and access to Registered Apprenticeship Programs and Preapprenticeship Programs, among others. The bill creates nearly a million new apprenticeship opportunities on top of the current expected growth of the apprenticeship system. It would also yield $10.6 billion in net benefits to U.S. taxpayers in the form of increased workers productivity and decreased spending on public assistance programs and unemployment insurance. The rigorous standards in the bill ensure that the programs that apprentices will work in will be top-quality.

At a time when our nation's infrastructure needs are so great, H.R. 8294 will ensure that we continue to train the best workforce in the world.

Again, I ask that you vote in favor of this important bill on the House floor.

With kind regards, I am. Sincerely yours, Terry O'Sullivan, General President.

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Mrs. TRAHAN. However, for far too long, apprenticeship opportunities have been utilized almost exclusively for just a handful of construction-oriented occupations. It is time to open this successful model to a wider range of careers and invite folks from a more diverse array of backgrounds to participate. This bill accomplishes both.

I am particularly pleased it includes legislation that Representative Morelle and I filed to assist small businesses in participating in registered apprenticeship programs and provide a particular focus on opportunities for people of color, women, and veterans.

At a time when college students are drowning in debt, we need to advance measures that offer more affordable pathways to the middle class. The bill before us will help countless people achieve the American Dream.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the chair and Representative Davis for their excellent work, and I urge the bill's passage.

Ms. FOXX of North Carolina.

Mr. Speaker, actions speak louder than words. When it comes to Democrats' delivering on promises, Americans are often left disappointed. Workforce development and apprenticeships are no exception. Take their so-called Heroes Act as an example.

Democrats tout the impactful role apprenticeships will play as our country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet their bill allocates a miniscule percentage of money for workforce development initiatives, and it doesn't do anything to ensure the money is used to develop and educate workers.

In the first Heroes Act only .07 percent of total funding was allocated to the Employment and Training Administration. Unsurprisingly, in the Heroes Act 2.0, only 0.1 percent of total funding was allocated to the Employment and Training Administration. This is hypocrisy at its best.

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