by Kara Voght, Medill News Service
WASHINGTON— on Thursday, with the leadership of Illinois congressman, Raja Krishnamoorthi, the US House of Representatives, in a rare moment of bipartisanship, unanimously passed a bill to continue funding for America’s career and technical education programs.
Rep Krishnamoorthi (D), introduced the measure with Rep. Glenn Thompson, D-Pa., in May. In addition to increasing the amount of federal funding, Krishnamoorthi says this version of the legislation gives states more flexibility to put federal resources toward training relevant to the needs of local economies.
The legislation offers incentives to employers to use the program. For younger people looking to build a career in the trades, it seeks to extends training opportunities to historically disadvantaged populations and those seeking employment in non-traditional fields.
The bill, according to co-sponsor Rep. Thompson, fits “like a hand in a glove” with President Trump’s executive order, announced last week, that doubles the funding allocated toward U.S. apprenticeships.
Both President Trump’s efforts to expand apprenticeships, and this bill to engage employers and youth looking for jobs in the trades, are a new realization that the American economy is not served by everyone seeking to get a four-year college degree.
“A four-year degree may not be for everyone, but education is,” said Krishnamoorthi.
A recent study found that while 65 percent of jobs in 2020 will require some educational training after high school, only 35 percent of jobs would require a four-year bachelor’s degree.
Members of the Illinois business community attended the press conference at the US Capitol. Eleanor Kerr, a Director for Government Affairs with Siemens, a business which runs a manufacturing plant in Krishnamoorth’s district, said Siemens Healthineers will certainly see a benefit as it [the bill] helps to provide skilled labor to our highly technical manufacturing sites.”
The bill will now move to the Senate’ for approval, but despite the unanimous support in the House, passage in the Senate is not assured.
Democratic lawmakers hope Thursday’s vote doesn’t mark a moment of déjà vu from last year, when the House passed a similar bill but the Senate didn’t vote on it.
Krishanmoorthi said the Senate’s legislative calendar poses the greatest obstacle to the bill’s passing congress, as the Senate is more focused on health care and budget talks, which could easily stymie progress in other legislative areas.
Rep Krishnamoorthi said this example of bipartisan support for the effort to increase funding for education in the trades, offers an antidote to the current political environs. “There’s a real spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation, two qualities that are missing right now in Washington.”