I am proud to be a cosponsor of the PROSPER Act, and truly believe the measures within this bill are essential to improve access, completion, and accountability across the higher education system. Most importantly, it will provide students with the opportunity to complete an education that will put them one step closer to achieving the American Dream.
I will echo what Chairwoman Foxx has said in the past to members of this committee as we crafted the PROSPER Act: we are in the business of reforming higher education, not just reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.
A simple reauthorization of the 1965 law will not address the needs of our current workforce that is over 6 million skilled workers short, nor will it reverse the $1.4 trillion of outstanding student loan debt that is placing a drag on the economy.
These facts have stayed with me as the full committee and my subcommittee held twenty-six hearings in the 113th, 114th, and 115th Congresses on issues within higher education. Four of those hearings were held during this Congress alone.
Each of those hearings touched on how the current higher education system is in need of reforms to meet the needs of students, families, future workers, and the employers of tomorrow.
I’m also happy to say that many of the issues discussed in those hearings are addressed in the PROSPER Act.
While the conversations we have had in this committee have been essential to the PROSPER Act in its current form, there are conversations that we have conducted that are even more important: those with our constituents.
Many people have expressed their concerns about the lack of flexibility in grant and loan programs for potential students seeking advanced studies, and others have shared the difficulties associated with earning a traditional degree and finding a good-paying job.
Those who share these concerns are not alone. A September Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 49% of Americans believe a four-year degree will actually lead to a good job and pay and only 47% of Americans aren’t sure college is worth it anymore.
These numbers emphasize that the status quo in higher education is not enough to serve students, families, or institutions, so it is time we change the status quo with meaningful reforms.
The stories I have heard from students and families in Kentucky have been a constant reminder for the need to stop simply talking about reforming higher education; it’s time to actually put forward a bill that achieves needed reforms.
As chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, it has been a privilege of mine to work with Chairwoman Foxx and members of this committee to introduce a bill with real reforms to address the needs of today’s students, as well as the needs of the institutions they attend.
Within the PROSPER Act, we are promoting completion, helping institutions evolve to meet the changing needs of students and the workforce, improving the complex and costly student financial aid system, and promoting accountability for institutions. Additionally, we are giving students a pipeline to the workforce, which is something never before addressed in higher education legislation.
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“Can I finish this program on time?”
“Can I finish this program at all?”
“How am I ever going to pay for this?”
“Will I get a job when I graduate?”
“Is all of this work even worth it?”
The times have changed, but for any student in any sector of higher education, the questions have not. That is why we’re here today.
Today, there are six million unfilled jobs in this country. Those jobs are unfilled because many employers have found that applicants lack the needed skills for those jobs.
Today, Americans carry more than a trillion dollars in student debt. Somehow, despite the six types of federal student loans, nine repayment plans, eight forgiveness programs, and 32 deferment and forbearance options out there, college costs continue to surge, leaving millions of families paying the price for well-intentioned but poorly executed federal involvement.
That is why this bill is before us today. No Americans—no matter their walk of life—can afford for us to simply reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). They need us to reform it.
The members of this committee have much to be proud of, not just in this bill, but over the course of this year. This spring, when we worked together to introduce, mark up, and see the House pass the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, we sent a clear message to the overwhelming majority of Americans who do not have a baccalaureate degree.
We affirmed the simple fact that all education is career education, and that their options and their choices mattered to us. We showed them that we agreed with them that there is real dignity and value in pursuing a technical skills-based education that allows them to be the best they could be in the careers they really wanted to pursue.
The PROSPER Act sends that same message to those who believe that a postsecondary education is the key to their future success. It reforms federal education policies to allow, not hinder, the pursuit of lifelong learning, wherever that may lead.
It promotes innovation, access, and completion—for students. It simplifies and improves student aid—for students. It empowers students and families to make informed decisions, and it ensures strong accountability and a limited federal role so institutions spend less time complying with outdated federal requirements and spend more time and resources on what’s really important—the students.
No bill is perfect when it begins its course through the legislative process, and we can all agree that no bill is perfect when it reaches the end of the legislative process. But we are here today because we cannot allow the status quo to continue. High school students, stay-at-home moms, single parents working multiple jobs to make ends meet, older Americans who still have so much to offer—these are just a few examples of those looking to postsecondary options to help them live a successful life.
I thank the members of this committee who have worked together so diligently with these Americans, our constituents, in mind. The PROSPER Act is for them.
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To learn more about the PROSPER Act, click here.
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Good morning, and welcome to today’s subcommittee hearing on the financial challenges facing the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and the impact to workers and retirees.
George Miller was a liberal lion of this Committee. While we very often disagreed, I admired his commitment to ensuring Americans have the ability to retire with dignity.
In 2014, he worked with John Kline, then our Chairman, to try to solve a real problem: a retirement system on the brink of collapse. They put politics aside, worked with employers and labor unions, and negotiated a set of reforms to the multiemployer pension system in order to preserve benefits for millions of workers. President Obama signed this bipartisan approach into law in 2014.
The law was based on the premise that the plan trustees who have a legal and moral obligation to pensioners and workers should have the ability to take early action in order to avoid disaster.
While the 2014 statute was an important step, regulations written by President Obama’s Treasury Department implementing the law made it difficult if not impossible for trustees to use the tools the law contains. And so, the problems continue. We know they persist because the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the backstop for private defined benefit plans, released its annual report two weeks ago. According to PBGC, more than 100 multiemployer plans are expected to fail, in addition to the 72 that already have.
This kind of widespread collapse will directly impact the millions of workers, retirees, and their families who spent their careers planning their retirement with these promised pension benefits in mind. And who promised these benefits? Unions and employers who established and administered these plans. The federal government and non-union workers had no role in negotiating the contracts that made the promises that will be broken. Mr. Miller, when he chaired this Committee, recognized this. That’s why this Committee, under his leadership in 2009, refused to advance a legislative proposal to put taxpayers on the hook for these promises.
Implementation of the 2014 law has been ineffective, and the workers and retirees in these plans are worse off because of it. When their plans fail, their benefits will be cut, in many cases significantly. And when these retirement systems fail, the PBGC will collapse as well.
The agency’s multiemployer insurance program currently has about $2 billion in assets, receives less than $300 million in premium revenue annually, and has a long term deficit of $65.1 billion. Again, that’s $65 billion. When the money runs out, likely sometime in 2025, pensioners will receive pennies on the dollar of what they were promised. Employers will close their doors, and previously healthy plans may go bankrupt.
Congress took bipartisan action just three years ago to prevent this looming disaster. We believe the Trump administration will work hard to ensure the law’s tools are utilized more appropriately. But if Congress is to consider further reforms, it’s critical that the Committee fully understand the scope of the financial challenges facing PBGC.
Today’s witness, Tom Reeder, is the PBGC’s director. He administers not just the multiemployer insurance program, but also the agency’s very large insurance program for single-employer defined benefit plans. While the finances of that program are trending upward, it is still underfunded by nearly $11 billion. That program insures more than 27 million Americans in more than 22,000 pension plans. We look forward to examining that program in today’s hearing as well.
There are no easy answers to these problems. We owe it to workers, retirees, employers and taxpayers to put politics aside and work toward finding a fiscally responsible, bipartisan solution. Millions of Americans are counting on us.
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The Department of Labor is on the frontline of the issues facing workers and job creators, and it sets policies that have a widespread impact on our nation’s economy, employment growth, retirement security, and more.
Whether they relate to health care, worker protections, retirement planning, workforce development, or employee wages and benefits — it is the responsibility of this committee to ensure those policies are in the best interest of workers, employers, and taxpayers.
I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: No matter what party controls the administration – this committee is dedicated to robust oversight. We take our oversight responsibilities very seriously. Today’s hearing is the latest step in our effort to hold federal government officials accountable.
The American people are counting on that accountability, especially at a time when the economy is still improving. We are all encouraged by the economic growth we have seen this year. In the third quarter of 2017, real GDP increased at an annual rate of 3 percent. That is a remarkable improvement, considering it’s twice as much as the mere 1.5 percent growth rate we saw during the final year of the Obama administration.
It’s also great to see more and more Americans getting back to work. Nearly 1.5 million jobs have been added since February. Meaningful progress has been made, but there’s no question we have more work to do after eight years of lost opportunity.
However, even though the unemployment rate is down, we still have 6.5 million workers out of work, including 1.6 million on a long-term basis. 4.8 million workers are working part-time because their hours have been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
At the same time, we have 6.1 million jobs unfilled, due in part to our nation’s skills gap. Expanding pathways to career success is a critical component to closing this gap and helping more Americans find good-paying jobs. That’s why Congress and the administration have made workforce development and skills-based education a leading priority.
This week happens to be National Apprenticeship Week, and so we are eager to hear from you, Mr. Secretary, on the steps the department plans to take to promote apprenticeships and other skills-based education programs.
This is something our committee has been focused on for quite some time now, and it is encouraging to have a partner in the White House and the Department of Labor. We look forward to further discussion of how we can work together to expand educational opportunities and empower more Americans to realize their God-given potential.
In addition, I hope that you will be able to provide committee members and the public with your views about the department’s efforts to advance economic opportunities for workers by strengthening workplace democracy, ensuring safe and healthy workplaces, enhancing retirement security, and providing workers and employers with more affordable health care options.
We are also very interested in hearing more about the department’s regulatory and enforcement agenda. This committee spent the early part of this year advancing resolutions under the Congressional Review Act to clean up the mess from the Obama administration and deliver regulatory relief for hardworking men and women.
In fact, five out of fourteen of the CRA resolutions that were signed into law originated from this committee. And just last week, the House passed the Save Local Business Act to roll back the Obama-era joint employer scheme that threatens 1.7 million jobs, according to the American Action Forum.
We know the department has its work cut out after eight years of an unprecedented regulatory rampage. But we look forward to building on the progress we’ve made together so we can get government out of the way and unleash prosperity and opportunity.
There are also a number of issues impacting retirement security that deserve our attention. This includes the need to protect access to affordable retirement advice and empower more Americans to plan for the future.
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Good morning, and welcome to today’s joint subcommittee hearing with our colleagues from the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development. I’d like to thank our panel of witnesses and our members for joining today’s important discussion on opioid abuse and addiction that is taking a toll on the nation.
The opioid crisis is having a profound impact on families, jobs, communities, and the economy, and that is why we’re here today.
The issue of drug overdoses due to opioids is only getting worse as deaths related to opioids have quadrupled since 1999. In 2016 alone, there were approximately 64,000 drug overdoses. This means that the opioid crisis is claiming the lives of 175 Americans per day.
These figures are horrifying and sad not only for the country’s future, but for communities who are losing parents, husbands, wives, teachers, and students.
Additionally, the opioid epidemic knows no age, gender, educational credential, or class distinction. This crisis is touching all Americans.
Some of the most unfortunate stories have to do with the children whose lives have been forever changed by this public health emergency.
Between 2000 and 2014, the number of babies born drug-dependent increased by 500 percent. In my home state of Indiana, a recent pilot program from the state Department of Health found that about 1 in 5 infants assessed at hospitals around the state tested positive for opiates.
More and more children are being placed into foster care or are cared for by another relative due to parental drug abuse. According to a recent analysis, nearly a third of the children who entered foster care in the U.S. in 2015 did so at least partially because of parental drug abuse.
It is one thing to read the statistics and accounts in the news about communities in the midst of the opioid crisis, but these accounts do not compare to the real voices we need to hear from in order to understand this crisis.
I had the opportunity to host a school safety summit last week in my district. One of the two big topics was the opioid crisis. I heard from Dustin Noonkester, one of the founders of “Brady’s Hope.” Dustin lost his son to opioid overdose. This organization is a resource to members of the community on how to spot abuse, how to address opioid misuse, and how families can help one another treat opioid addiction.
These are the stories that give me hope that this crisis can be overcome.
This epidemic can no longer be ignored, and it is important that we hear from those who are on the ground and facing the tragic truths of the opioid crisis every day.
The witnesses we have gathered here today understand the opioid problem better than any of us here in Washington, because they see it, and fight it, in their communities.
I am pleased this committee can come together to understand this true public health emergency and its impact on communities across the United States.
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When Americans think of data breaches and cyber-attacks, names like Equifax come to mind. This and other recent high profile data breaches have made private and sensitive information vulnerable to identity theft as well as other cyber-crimes.
Cyber-crimes are constantly appearing in the news, and Americans want to know what is being done to protect their data, as well as other vulnerable targets that comprise our national infrastructure.
Organizations in the public and private sectors are actively seeking skilled professionals to fill the numerous jobs available in the growing cybersecurity field, and are coming up short in the number of Americans able to fill these essential positions that ensure our American cyber-infrastructure is safe.
A recent study by Intel Security and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) examined the global cybersecurity workforce shortage and confirmed that the talent shortage was real and widespread. Eighty-two percent of participants report a shortage of cybersecurity skills.
The same report found that more than 209,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. are unfilled, and job postings are up 74 percent over the past five years. Additionally, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is expected to continue to grow to over 1.8 million by 2022.
This skills gap is not unique to the cybersecurity sector. Many other industries such as manufacturing and transportation are facing a shortage of skilled workers to fill good-paying jobs. However, when dealing with cybersecurity, the stakes are even higher because we are dealing with national security.
Fortunately, the discussions we have today will not be the beginning of the conversation in Congress on closing the skills gap.
The House unanimously passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which allows states to dedicate additional resources towards high-demand fields such as cybersecurity based on changing economic, educational, or national security needs.
Additionally, the Committee on Education and the Workforce has been carefully observing the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that was signed into law in 2014.
This law streamlined the confusing maze of workforce development programs, and increased the amount of funding available to the states to meet specific workforce demands based on conversations with public and private stakeholders in each state.
Today’s hearing will examine solutions to filling the skills gap that currently exists in the cybersecurity field, and how coalitions across government, academic institutions, and private industries can pave the way to successfully close this skills gap and keep our country’s cybersecurity infrastructure safe.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about how Congress can assist in the conversations already taking place between institutions of higher education and public and private entities in the cybersecurity field.
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Let me begin by welcoming our witness panel and our guests today. Thank you for taking the time away from your important work to testify and help Congress better understand these workforce issues. I am especially grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Members of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee to hold this joint hearing on developing our nation’s cyber workforce. I would like to thank Chairwoman Foxx and Chairman Guthrie for their work on this critical issue. It is an important time for cooperation here on Capitol Hill and it is my sincere hope that the public will be encouraged that Members on both sides of the aisle are focused on important issues that really matter.
Cybersecurity is an issue that affects every sector of our economy and our society. The risks are broadly shared and this joint hearing shows the need for an integrated approach to address the challenge of the cyber skills gap. Cyberattacks are growing in frequency and sophistication, but the availability of qualified cybersecurity professionals to deal with these challenges is not keeping pace. We cannot speak to the shortage of workers without recognizing the importance of the academic pipeline that produces today’s workforce as well our next generation of experts who will need to keep pace with technology and the ever evolving threats.
The dearth of cybersecurity talent is a major resource constraint that impacts our ability to protect information and assets. More than 200,000 cybersecurity jobs in the US are unfilled and the demand for positions, like information security professionals, is expected to grow by 53 percent through 2018. This slow moving crisis is very likely to only get worse.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection subcommittee recently heard testimony that indicated that the struggle to find qualified personnel to fill cybersecurity roles in government and business is not only a short term problem, but is expected to grow and become even more acute in the future. Technology innovation and criminal tactics move very fast,, and with each new wirelessly-connected baby monitor or interconnected energy-efficient pipeline that comes online, new threats and vulnerabilities emerge to exploit those technologies. Just as the connected world expands and new products improve our quality of life, simplifying many tasks, our vulnerabilities move in parallel and demand a skilled workforce who can protect the functionality and preserve confidential data.
Public and private hiring systems must likewise shift and adapt to a new way of thinking about hiring and recruiting; we need intellectual capital that better reflects the qualifications and skills of a new type of cyber worker.. For their entire lives,younger Americans just enter ing the workforce have possessed more technology in a single smartphone than some ever imagined. Consider that the iPhone 7 operates at 1.4 gigahertz and can process instructions at a rate of approximately 1.2 instructions every cycle in each of its 2 cores. Put simply, the iPhone 7’s clock is 32,600 times faster than the best Apollo-era computers and could perform instructions 120,000,000 times faster. You wouldn’t be wrong in saying an iPhone could be used to guide 120,000,000 Apollo era spacecraft to t e moon, all at the same time. The rate of innovation in the information technology sector is simply astonishing.
I believe the Federal Government and our cybersecurity leaders can create more alliances with community groups, universities and career and technical schools to better develop our talent pipeline. The Department of Homeland Security supports a number of efforts to strengthen its workforce, from programs to recruit new cyber talent to those that allow private sector experts the opportunity to share their knowledge working at DHS. We need to encourage government-university-employer collaborations that are meaningful and robust. Demonstrating cyber know-how no longer comes in discrete forms such as having a bachelor’s degree or not, or obtainin g a cyber certification. Cyber competitions, bug bounty programs, and coding camps are all new forms of workforce development.
I am looking forward to discussing with our witnesses today some of the best practices in building public-private partnerships to expand the cyber workforce pipeline.
The cyber capabilities of our workforce help support economic strength and sustain our technological advantage. It is my firm belief that America will only remain the world’s preeminent superpower so long as it remains the world’s cybersecurity leader. Leadership matters, and if we don’t encourage and develop the talented men and women who lead this work, we will be both poorer and less safe.
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