In 1984, Congress authorized the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, which seeks to provide secondary and postsecondary students with the education and skills they need to succeed in the workplace. Since 1984, the Perkins Act has been reauthorized twice, the last time being in 2006, making the most recent update a decade old.
This act authorized a range of career and technical education (CTE) programs, stretching from health care to information technology to mechanical construction. The best programs allow students to work toward certifications and apprenticeships while still in secondary school.
As I travel throughout the Third District meeting with job creators, a constant refrain is that there are not enough people with the right skills to fill the jobs they have available. Each time I hear this, I am more and more convinced that we have duped a generation into believing the only key to success is pursuing a four-year degree. Oftentimes, students do not finish that degree, and even if they do, they are left with thousands of dollars in student debt and even worse, no job prospects. Instead of forcing students into a one-size-fits-all future, CTE education allows students to gain the skills they need to access high-demand, well-paying jobs, without the burdens often associated with other educational routes.
On June 28, 2016, Representative Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania introduced the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587), which reauthorizes the 1984 Perkins Act. On July 7, 2016, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce reported the bill by unanimous consent. This reauthorization focuses on four main objectives: empowering state and local leaders, improving alignment with in-demand jobs, increasing transparency and accountability, and ensuring a limited federal role.
To accomplish these objectives, the reauthorization first simplifies the application process for federal CTE funds, ensuring that this process is better-aligned with the workforce development plan that states are expected to submit under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. By ensuring that states do not have to reinvent the wheel, it allows them to focus resources on the actual work of preparing students for their careers.
At the same time, H.R. 5587 allows states to focus federal resources on in-demand jobs determined at the state level. One way they will do this is through prioritizing partnerships with employers in each community, allowing students to train with local companies that will be able to offer them jobs after graduation.
The bill also ensures transparency by allowing states to create targeted levels of performance and then report the results annually. The state plans will be created through an open process that encourages input from parents, students, and state and local leaders.
Finally, Representative Thompson’s reauthorization puts power back in the hands of the states by removing the requirement to negotiate targeted performance levels with the Secretary of Education, while at the same time, removing the Secretary’s ability to withhold funds from states – instead allowing states to develop improvement plans to get back on target.
I believe the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act is an important step forward in creating opportunities for the next generation, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to bring this to the President’s desk.Read More
Zika was first discovered in 1947 in Uganda, but it has recently spread through South and Central America. The virus itself is passed primarily through mosquito bites, although other forms of transmission have been seen. Symptoms of the virus are
Much is still unknown about the disease, but we do know that so far, eight Arkansans have been infected while traveling. Fortunately, there have been no local infections, however as we move through the summer months, Zika is becoming an increasing threat.
I have met personally with Dr. Tom Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to discuss the response to Zika. The CDC is currently developing tests to diagnose the virus, conducting studies to learn more about the link between Zika and birth defects, providing guidance to Americans traveling to regions with current outbreaks, and monitoring the spread of the virus. Additionally, the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center was activated on January 22, 2016, to collaborate with local, national, and international response partners regarding the outbreak.
Congress has a role to play in the response, too. In February, the Obama Administration submitted an emergency discretionary appropriations request for nearly $1.9 billion in supplemental funding for Zika epidemic. Because it was requested as emergency funding, these dollars would not be subject to Budget Control Act of 2011 spending limits.
Instead of busting budget caps, at our urging, the CDC is currently funding its response to Zika with redirected Ebola dollars. To supplement these funds, the House passed the Zika Response Appropriations Act (H.R. 5243), a stand-alone supplemental appropriations bill which would provide an additional $622.1 million for this fiscal year’s response to Zika, in May. In June, the House doubled down by passing the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Zika Response Appropriations Act final Conference Report (H.R. 2577), which would not only provide fiscal year 2017 funding to house, train, and equip military personnel, provide housing and services to military families, help maintain base infrastructure, and provide for veterans’ benefits and programs, but the bill also furnished $1.1 billion for domestic and international efforts to fight Zika.
Unfortunately, because Senate Democrats chose to put politics over solutions, that’s where House progress stopped. When taken to the Senate Floor for a vote, Democrats balked. With each passing day, more and more women and their unborn children are at risk, and I believe it is unacceptable that politics should stop us from providing for a solution. I hope Senate Democrats recognize this sooner rather than later.
Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) is seeking hard-working college students and recent graduates to serve as interns in his Washington, D.C. office, as well as his district offices in Rogers, Fort Smith, and Harrison, for the following sessions:
September – December*
*Dates are flexible.
A congressional internship is a rewarding experience, and both Washington, D.C. and district office interns will work closely with Congressman Womack’s staff and constituents while learning the inner workings of the United States Congress and about issues affecting Arkansans. Those interested in political science, government, public policy, business, and social work are encouraged to apply.
Internship requirements and application materials are available
College students and recent graduates who are interested in interning in the Washington, D.C. office should submit a completed application to:
Congressman Steve Womack
c/o Intern Coordinator
1119 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Or via email
College students and recent graduates who are interested in interning in the Rogers, Fort Smith, or Harrison offices should submit a completed application to:
Congressman Steve Womack
c/o Intern Coordinator
3333 Pinnacle Hills Parkway, Suite 120
Rogers, AR 72758
Or via fax to: (479) 464-0063
For more information, please call (202) 225-4301.
Congressman Steve Womack has represented Arkansas’s Third Congressional District since 2011 and serves on the House Appropriations Defense, Financial Services and General Government, and Labor-Health and Human Services subcommittees and the House Committee on the Budget.
Congress is currently in a District Work Period, which gives us time to stay close to home and have in-depth interactions with our constituents across our district. However, once Congress resumes session in Washington, we will have some necessary work to complete. A new fiscal year begins on October 1st, and before then, we must pass an Appropriations package that keeps the necessary functions of our government running.
As an Appropriator, I am proud of the progress we made this year – all twelve of the Appropriations bills passed the full Appropriations Committee. Starting with Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill and ending with the Interior and Environment bill, the whole House passed five of these bills and sent them to the Senate for consideration.
This is important works. It demonstrates the House’s agreement on what the final spending package should look like, on what cuts need to be made, and on what priorities need to be funded. Without
Since I began my work in Congress in 2011, the gridlock that plagues Washington has resulted in a series of stops and starts to the federal government in a hodgepodge of Continuing Resolutions and Omnibus spending bills. While it may appear that the two are interchangeable, a CR is damaging to our essential government functions and our nation as a whole. CRs prevent new projects from starting on time – from roads to bridge repairs to community centers and Corps of Engineers projects – and ultimately make these projects more costly. And important cuts or funding limitations, like reductions in the Environmental Protection Agency budget or bans on new and harmful regulations, simply don’t go into effect.
As a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I am particularly concerned for the passage of the Defense Appropriations bill that is vital to keep the Pentagon running and our soldiers abroad
As a Defense Appropriator and a National Guard veteran, I believe it is unacceptable that congressional gridlock and politics should stop us from providing for our military, and I will be working hard with my colleagues to complete our work on these bills before the end of the fiscal year.Read More
Don’t miss the chance to join me for coffee!
Coffee with the Congressman – Centerton
Monday, July 25, 2016, from 8:30-9:30AM CDT
Centerton City Hall Courtroom
290 North Main Street
Centerton, AR 72719