By Rep. Scott Perry
As you read this, hundreds of young people from our community are graduating from college, justifiably proud of their accomplishments and excited to embark on their next journey in life. Unfortunately, more than twelve percent of recent college graduates are unemployed, and approximately 284,000 of the graduates who do have jobs earn minimum wage or less.
Many of our fellow citizens aren't faring any better. Our economy is stuck in neutral and wages remain flat, while health care and other costs keep skyrocketing. The federal government has run up an unsustainable debt of $16.7 trillion and rising. And more than twelve million Americans -- young parents, seniors and veterans -- still are looking for work. This is a national emergency.
For the first four months of the 113th Congress, House Republicans have tried to address this crisis by laying the groundwork for a healthy economy that creates more job opportunities for all Americans. These common sense solutions are based on a simple premise: when the American people are free to succeed, there's no limit to what we can accomplish.
Here are some examples of bills the House has passed to create new jobs today, make life work for families across the country, and expand opportunity for everyone -- without expanding government. None of these bills have been voted on by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The SKILLS Act (passed by the House on March 15, 2013) -- While more than 12 million Americans remain unemployed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports millions of job openings remain unfilled. One reason for this startling fact is a broken workforce development system. The SKILLS Act seeks to consolidate, reform and modernize the maze of federal workforce training programs and help millions of unemployed Americans get back to work.
The Smarter Solutions for Students Act (passed by the House on May 23, 2013) -- For years, politicians have been putting themselves in charge of setting student loan interest rates, which guarantees uncertainty for students and needlessly politicizes a critically important issue. This bill applies a market-based interest rate to federal student loans, protecting students from high interest-rates and making their loans more affordable as they enter the workforce.
Hydropower Development, H.R. 267 and 678 (passed by the House on February 12 and April 10, 2013) -- These bills lift barriers to the development of hydropower in the U.S. Hydropower is the largest source of clean, renewable energy in the United States, creating thousands of jobs (including many in the 4th Congressional District) and providing power to millions of Americans at a low cost. Of the approximately 80,000 dams in the United States, approximately three percent currently generate hydropower. This represents a tremendous opportunity for our nation's energy needs.
The Northern Route Approval Act (passed by the House on May 22, 2013) -- Approves construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which the Department of State says could create an estimated 20,000 direct new jobs and deliver approximately 83,000 barrels of oil a day, substantially reducing our reliance on energy from unstable sources. The Keystone Pipeline has attracted bi-partisan support, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO.
Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act (passed by House on April 18, 2013) - Stopping cyber-attacks by foreign countries like China as well as private criminal organizations keeps our homeland safe and protects American jobs. This bill helps stop cyber-attacks by strengthening information sharing capabilities between private-sector companies and the government regarding cyber threats, while protecting the American people's privacy.
Working Families Flexibility Act (passed by the House on May 8, 2013) - For decades, government employees who work overtime have been able to choose between getting paid in cash or taking time off later. This legislation changes an outdated law so that private-sector employers are allowed to offer comp time to their employees -- giving private sector employees the same choice their government counterparts have.
In addition to helping the American economy become more competitive, more innovative, and more productive, we must also hold Washington accountable and force it to deal with its nearly $17 trillion debt and wasteful spending. In March, the House adopted its 2014 budget, a serious, realistic, honest budget that holds Washington accountable and protects taxpayers. Likewise, I introduced legislation that proposes a responsible balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It's time for Washington to live by the same rules as every American family. It shouldn't spend what it doesn't have. Ask yourself: how long could your family survive by putting so much on your credit cards? How long can our country?
These reforms must go hand-in-hand with an effort to create a simpler, fairer tax code that leads to more jobs and higher wages. And evidence is mounting every day that the President's health care law is driving up costs, jeopardizing seniors' access to care, and making it harder for small businesses to hire -- the clearest evidence being that President Obama himself has signed seven bills that dismantle parts of his own health care law.
People are still out of work and hurting. House Republican will remain focused on what we can do right now, and in the long-term, to make a difference in people's lives.