Good morning, and welcome to today’s full committee hearing. I’d like to thank our witness, Ms. Barbara Stewart, for joining today’s important discussion on the need for continued oversight of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) following a pattern of failures in management of CNCS in the past.
From the founding of our country millions of Americans have always volunteered and served not only their own communities, but those in need of assistance across the country. This devotion to service is one of the things that makes America exceptional, and is a hallmark of the people of this country.
Not until1993 did the federal government get actively involved with channeling taxpayer dollars to local communities and volunteers and illustrated again that the federal government often does not add value to an endeavor.
CNCS issues $750 million in grants annually, and at any given time oversees more than 2,100 active grants, ranging in size from $40,000 to $10 million. Additionally, CNCS operates programs in over 50,000 locations across the country.
This funding was designed to carry out essential programs such as those that strengthen workforce development opportunities, provide economic recovery, support struggling neighborhoods, and promote health and well-being in areas impacted by natural disasters.
While these are the intended outcomes of programs under the jurisdiction of CNCS, a series of reports from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) discovered that CNCS has not fulfilled its mission to serve for several years.
Reports filed by OIG have noted patterns of fraud, mismanagement, noncompliance, and safety hazards within CNCS.
These are not words members of Congress like to hear coming from an agency that received over a billion dollars in taxpayer funding for fiscal-year 2018.
It is troubling to read through the incidents of misconduct and mismanagement of CNCS, and even more troubling to see that little has been done to the present to bring significant changes to the Corporation after several years of oversight and demands from Congress to change the way CNCS conducts its operations. The failures of the Corporation in these areas have put at risk those who the mission it is to serve, including the most vulnerable among us.
The OIG has provided CNCS with ample ideas to change its operations, and has even outlined a uniform set of 19 criteria across the entire grant portfolio. Additionally, CNCS has spent more than $24 million in attempts to modernize its critical grants management system, yet OIG has found that the program is still not up to standards after spending these millions in taxpayer funds.
Despite the OIG’s recommendations, as well as the monetary resources provided, CNCS still has not implemented these recommendations, and has failed to correct mistakes of the past.
Today’s hearing is also not the first time this committee has addressed the glaring mismanagement of CNCS in recent years. As far back as 2011, the Higher Education and Workforce Development subcommittee examined the issues plaguing CNCS.
In each of these hearings, CNCS management has assured Congress that it would correct mistakes of the past, and bring accountability to the programs under its jurisdiction.
These promises have proven to be empty, and here we are again addressing these issues with CNCS. While the practices of CNCS have not changed yet, there has been a change in the agency’s management.
Ms. Barbara Stewart recently has taken over as CEO of CNCS in February of this year, after being confirmed by the Senate. Ms. Stewart has a strong career in management and public service, and has been praised by others for her commitment to service, and devotion to addressing challenges in America’s most vulnerable communities.
Since being confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Stewart has expressed intentions to continue the mission of CNCS, and it is the obligation of Congress to understand how Ms. Stewart will address the fraud, mismanagement, non-compliance, and safety that has undermined the mission of CNCS.
I look forward to Ms. Stewart’s testimony, and thank members of this committee for joining today’s discussion.
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Good morning, and welcome to today’s subcommittee hearing. I would like to thank our panel of witnesses and our members for joining today’s important discussion on the Department of Labor’s proposed rule on association health plans, or AHPs, and how we can make affordable health care options a reality for more working Americans.
The timing of this particular hearing is appropriate as this week marks eight years since the passage of Obamacare. Since Obamacare became the law of the land, America’s small businesses have struggled to dig themselves out from under the law’s crushing weight.
Since 2008, the share of small businesses with fewer than 10 employees offering health coverage has dropped by a shocking 36 percent, leaving working Americans with fewer health care options or no coverage at all. It is estimated that 300,000 small business jobs have been eliminated because of Obamacare, and 10,000 small businesses nationwide have been forced to close their doors. The financial burden this law has placed on Main Street businesses has been debilitating, with its costs and mandates amounting to an estimated $19 billion in lost wages for small business employees.
Time and again, those of us on this Committee have heard from small business owners that one of their greatest concerns is the high cost of health insurance. America’s job creators deserve better than the failing status quo of limited coverage options at sky-high prices. Instead, small businesses should be empowered to negotiate for the very best coverage at the very best prices on behalf of their employees, just as big businesses and labor unions do.
In 2017, this Committee favorably reported, and the House passed, H.R. 1101, the Small Business Health Fairness Act, legislation I introduced with our colleague Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. This legislation would expand health care coverage and lower costs for workers by empowering small businesses to band together through association health plans and negotiate for lower costs on behalf of their employees.
By granting small businesses the ability to join together through AHPs, small businesses would be able to strengthen their bargaining power in the health insurance market in order to secure health coverage options on par with that of larger companies and unions.
In October of last year, President Trump issued an executive order directing the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury to use their regulatory authority to expand access to AHPs. In response to the President’s directive, the Department of Labor proposed a rule in January to broaden the criteria for determining when employers may join together in an employer group or association in order to form an AHP.
Given the Committee’s longstanding interest and activity on AHPs, this recent action by DOL presents an opportunity to examine the Department’s plan to expand small business access to affordable health care options, and thereby decrease the number of uninsured individuals. Empowering small businesses to form AHPs is especially near and dear to my heart, and I am pleased to see such strong progress on an issue that will directly benefit our nation’s job creators and their employees.
I look forward to hearing from our panel of witnesses and from other members of the subcommittee today as we examine this proposed rule and work to do right by America’s small businesses.
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Good afternoon, and welcome to today’s subcommittee hearing. I’d like to thank our panel of witnesses and our members for joining today’s important discussion on how the inclusion of work requirements within public benefit programs can help beneficiaries return to the workforce and ensure stewardship of public resources.
Since 1996, work requirements have provided families who receive federal assistance the opportunity to grow the skills they need to succeed and eventually reenter the workforce. The ultimate goal of these programs is to help beneficiaries find themselves in a position where they no longer need to rely on federal assistance.
More than 50 million people in the U.S. have participated in major means-tested government assistance programs, and the work requirements associated with many of these programs have allowed many Americans to find a pathway back into the workforce because they gained the ability to be self-sufficient through the process.
One of the most successful programs in this regard has been the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. TANF includes twelve different workforce activities that beneficiaries can participate in to meet the work requirements in order to receive federal assistance.
These include programs such as subsidized private sector employment, skills-based education, job search and job readiness assistance, community service programs, and job-skills education directly related to employment.
It is encouraging to see that these programs cover such a wide variety of opportunities for beneficiaries to get a foot in the workforce door in the hope that one day they will no longer need federal assistance because of the skills they’ve developed.
We have also seen evidence that these types of programs are working to help Americans provide for themselves, their families, and pursue the full extent of the American dream.
Since the creation of this program in 1996, there has been a sharp decline in the number of federal benefit recipients who must complete work requirements as part of their participation in a federal program. Congress needs to be exploring how workforce development opportunities can be integrated into other benefit programs as well.
Right now, we are looking for ways to reform our entitlement system, which is failing certain beneficiaries who feel stuck in the status quo. An important part of this effort is helping people reenter the workforce.
I’m looking forward to hearing from our panel of witnesses today on how we can continue to assist beneficiaries find good-paying jobs and regain their financial independence. I also appreciate our witnesses being flexible with the House schedule. We had to postpone this hearing from a few weeks ago, so thank you for appearing today instead.
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Good morning, and welcome to today’s subcommittee hearing. I’d like to thank our panel of witnesses, and my colleagues, for joining today’s important discussion on how child care should play a role in the welfare system, including ways effective child care supports working parents, alleviates generational poverty, and boosts the economy.
Federal welfare programs act as a vital tool to help families find a way out of poverty, and many welfare programs assist parents in finding a good-paying job to help them end their need for welfare benefits.
Presently, over 52 million Americans participate in major means-tested government assistance programs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Among those Americans are parents of children who can benefit from high-quality child care while their parents find work, gain the skills they need to find a good-paying job, or are working hard to support their families’ path to self-sufficiency. These parents need to know that their child is being provided with proper care when they are away from home.
This is true for any working parent who wants to ensure their child is receiving proper care while they are at work. No parent should have to make the choice between showing up for work and caring for their child.
Just as important, high-quality care can have meaningful, lasting impacts. These children are tomorrow’s workforce.
A recent study from the Urban Institute highlighted the value of child care as part of the welfare system, stating “failure to meet the child care needs of parents directly undercuts the stated goals of both workforce development systems and child care systems.”
This is why it is important for members of congress to understand the current state of child care programs within the welfare system and exactly how they play a role in the federal government’s overall efforts to strengthen the workforce.
Presently, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal funding stream that provides financial assistance to low-income, working families with children under age 13 to pay for child care.
In 2015, about 1.4 million children and some 847,400 families received child care assistance in each month through the CCDBG. Of parents participating in the CCDBG program, strong majorities (78 percent) are working, and another 14 percent are in a workforce development or educational program to give them the skills they need to eventually find a good-paying job. Work requirements within welfare programs establish an important path to self-sufficiency.
Providing work support such as child care can be an essential piece of this puzzle for families. Connecting CCDBG to other workforce development and welfare programs is an important way to help move families out of welfare and into lasting work.
The witnesses before us today bring many different perspectives and many different stories on the importance of child care programs for welfare beneficiaries, and will provide us with insight into how Congress should continue to explore ways to support child care programs that help parents who receive federal assistance move into work and away from welfare.
I look forward to hearing from our panel of witnesses and from other members of the subcommittee today.
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Good morning, and I welcome our witnesses and members to today’s subcommittee hearing to examine the effectiveness of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Today’s hearing will focus on how OSHA is ensuring safe workplaces and promoting smart, responsible regulatory policies for both employees and employers.
No matter the size of the business, the number of workers it employs, or the industry it supports, workplace safety is the responsibility and should be a chief priority of all businesses. Every worker deserves a safe and healthy workplace.
OSHA plays a key role in helping workers and employers make workplaces safe through its health and safety standards, guidelines, education, assistance, and outreach. The agency’s policies cover approximately 130 million workers at more than 8 million worksites. Its reach encompasses private sector employers and workers in all 50 states.
As a former labor attorney, I know these policies all too well and understand the vast jurisdiction OSHA has over the workforce.
While OSHA has standards that provide employees with workplace protections across many industries, employers are continuously struggling to comply with the ever-changing standards and new regulations released by OSHA every year.
I have heard from countless employers and business owners who have told me about the challenges they face in complying with OSHA’s policies. While these employers agree that OSHA strives to create what it views as the safest working environments for employees, it is often hard for businesses of all sizes to stay in compliance with OSHA standards. Many businesses also agree that OSHA’s intentions are well-meaning, but are unworkable in the real world.
Furthermore, continuous change comes at a cost to many businesses as they must adjust operations to meet the new standards. These compliance costs are especially difficult for small businesses who have limited resources to meet new, burdensome OSHA standards. The added compliance costs are often passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
That said, there are programs at OSHA designed to help businesses of all sizes in a proactive way. Just last week, I visited the Cintas location in Mobile, Alabama to celebrate their designation as an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program Star site. I continue to applaud the local employees for their commitment to workplace safety, and I look forward to hearing more about the VPP and other collaborative programs offered by OSHA.
Today’s hearing will focus on how OSHA can work more cooperatively with job creators, especially in the small businesses community, to expand its compliance assistance efforts and for employers to provide the safest and healthiest workplaces possible.
We also need to see strong and stable leadership within the agency, and I hope the Senate will move quickly on the confirmation of Scott Mungo to be the new assistant secretary at the Department of Labor, charged with leading OSHA.
We are holding this hearing today because it is important for business owners and legislators to hear from one another as new policies are created to foster a safer and healthier workplace for the 21st Century economy.
It is my hope that the conversations we have today will ultimately benefit workers and employees, who are the most valuable resource of every business.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses who have come from various industries, and I thank them for their participation in today’s hearing.
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Good morning, and welcome to today’s joint subcommittee hearing with the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. I’d like to thank our witnesses for joining us for this important discussion on how the opioid epidemic is impacting workplaces, workers, and families cross this country.
The tragic opioid epidemic has unfortunately become a major part of our national conversation, and a problem that we must understand and address.
Too many Americans – from all walks of life and from all parts of the country – are facing the terrifying realities of opioid abuse, and far too many are dying from opioid misuse and overdose every day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid use (including prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl) was the cause of over 42,000 deaths in 2016, 40 percent of which involved a prescription.
As policymakers, we need these statistics to inform what we do. But it’s most important to remember that every casualty was a person with incredible potential.
Not only were they members of our larger social communities, they were members of our work communities.
Our coworkers see more of us during the average day than even our own families. The people we see in the workplace have a significant role in each of our lives, and are part of the community around us.
Many Americans work alongside those who suffer from opioid misuse, but may not understand what can be done to help their fellow coworker.
According to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, 70 percent of the 14.8 million individuals that are misusing drugs, including opioids, are currently employed.
While this statistic is alarming, it also shows the workplace can be a resource for the community to identify those who are struggling with opioid misuse. And, we are already seeing some employers assisting employees in their treatment and rehabilitation.
Already, many employers have deemed it necessary to update or promote existing policies to provide support to employees who struggle with opioid abuse.
In fact, 70 percent of U.S. companies and 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have an employee assistance program to assist employees struggling with substance abuse and other problems.
It is reassuring to see these kinds of programs and practices implemented by companies who want to see their employees healthy and productive. But more needs to be done.
While much of the current dialog is about the dangers of the opioid epidemic, we also need to hear about the proactive steps employers are taking to fight this epidemic within their workplaces and the broader community.
That brings us to today’s discussion of how the opioid epidemic is impacting American workers and what some employers are doing to address this problem.
We must understand that the federal government must not act as a barrier or tie the hands of employers when it comes to addressing opioid abuse and the workplace. Rather, we should fortify employers’ efforts to help their employees and family members, who are affected by this epidemic.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, and thank Chairman Byrne for co-chairing this important joint subcommittee hearing.
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Good morning, and thank you Chairman Walberg for beginning today’s joint subcommittee hearing.
I’m pleased to be joining our witnesses and members of both subcommittees as we continue the discussion on the impact the opioid epidemic is having on American communities and workplaces.
The alarming increase in the abuse and misuse of opioids is a matter of great national concern, and I am pleased that Congress and the private sector are having these discussions and actively looking for ways to reverse the damage of opioids in our communities.
One of the most alarming aspects of this epidemic is that misuse and abuse of opioids can happen so quickly, and often begins with prescription medication.
My home state of Alabama is not immune from this troubling development. Alabama ranks first in the nation in the number of painkiller prescriptions per capita, with more than 5.8 million opioid prescriptions written in 2015. That’s more than 1.2 prescriptions per person.
An unfortunate reality is that this epidemic is happening to our coworkers, and in business communities large and small. Employers and employees alike are seeing the personal and economic toll this epidemic is having.
Only now are we grasping the tragic statistics that illustrate the impact this problem is having on the American workforce. According to one recent estimate, opioid abuse costs employers $18 billion per year in sick days and medical expenses.
It is troubling to hear that workplaces around the country have been affected by opioid misuse and addiction. But increased costs are not the most troubling way this epidemic has impacted the workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of overdose fatalities on the job has increased by at least 25 percent annually since 2012.
These facts are alarming because they show that employees who abuse drugs, like opioids, are creating unintended consequences for their fellow coworkers.
Those who misuse any illicit substance while at work are creating a risky environment, and that can also lead to workplace incidents where other employees could be hurt on the job.
Employers are recognizing the risks that opioid abuse has on the workplace, and it is reassuring to hear that businesses large and small are taking steps to address this problem in their organizations.
It is encouraging to hear that more employers are looking for ways to identify, educate, and assist employees who struggle with opioid abuse and addiction. Employee Assistance Programs are a great tool to help employees get the resources they need to start on the road to recovery. I do believe more can and should be done to make employees more aware of these resources before it is too late.
Employers and fellow coworkers play a pivotal role in keeping workplaces safe across the country. I join my colleagues in cautioning the federal government from taking broad and sweeping action to create unnecessary bureaucratic mandates that would inhibit employers who know what programs work best for their individual employees.
Our witnesses today have proven that they are uniquely positioned to tell us more about how companies are adopting and executing new best practices to combat this tragic epidemic in our communities. I would like to thank the witnesses for sharing their stories about how the opioid epidemic affects the workplace, as well aswhat they are doing to help solve this problem.
Working together with government, businesses, nonprofits, and local communities, I am hopeful we can bring an end to the opioid epidemic.
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Good morning, and welcome to today’s subcommittee hearing. I’d like to thank our witness, Mr. Tony Dearman, Director of the Bureau of Indian Education, and our members for joining today’s important discussion regarding the government’s management of Native American schools.
Under the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) is tasked with providing Native American children with a high-quality education that upholds their tribes’ traditions and culture.
Over 47,000 students in 183 elementary and secondary schools depend on this government agency to provide them with educational opportunities in a safe and healthful learning environment.
Unfortunately, so many Native American children are not receiving the education they deserve.
Over the years, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has expressed concern regarding BIE’s ability to effectively manage the schools under its jurisdiction. In 2017, the GAO placed BIE on its High Risk List, identifying the bureau as one of several government programs and offices at risk of exhibiting a high degree of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.
This is especially alarming for me to hear because it involves children in K-12 education, the most formative and important stage in a student’s career as a learner.
Site visits have also indicated to members of the committee that the schools managed by BIE frequently fail to provide students with an environment that keeps them safe and healthy.
Three years ago, I was a first-hand witness to the inadequate school conditions Native American children are faced with. On a visit to Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School in Northern Minnesota with then-Chairman John Kline, I observed the absence of basic classroom supplies like desks and paper, foundational and structural problems, and health hazards like rodent infestations.
Seeing the problems with my own eyes galvanized me to work more closely with the BIE so that we can improve conditions for these children. We must do better by these students, including ensuring access to safe schools and improved academic opportunities.
In 2014, the Secretary of Interior directed the Bureau of Indian Affairs to restructure BIE from a school operating organization to a school improvement organization. This change will reorganize BIE to function more like a state educational agency that oversees the system, rather than a local educational agency tasked with school operation.
By reorienting BIE to a role that will provide technical assistance to schools, the Department of Interior will be able to work with Congress and the GAO to rehabilitate BIE so that it’s better equipped to serve its students and improve its facilities.
According to GAO, restructuring of BIE is currently behind schedule, but it is the committee’s hope that with the leadership of the new administration, BIE will be able to accelerate its timeline to deliver better results for its schools and students.
As this committee continues to follow the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and BIE’s ongoing restructuring efforts, it is important that we continue the dialogue about opportunities to better serve Native American students in attendance at BIE schools.
Today’s hearing presents such a chance to explore ideas and initiatives to improve schools and strengthen education, as well as hear from the BIE’s director Tony Dearman about what steps are being taken to restructure the bureau both quickly and effectively.
I look forward to learning from our witness about the Bureau of Indian Education and the schools under its jurisdiction, and I am encouraged that today we can make significant progress on behalf of these students. With that, I will now recognize Ranking Member Polis for his opening remarks.
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Good morning, and welcome to today’s subcommittee hearing. I’d like to thank our witness, David Zatezalo, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, and our members for joining today’s important discussion regarding the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
Mining is not only essential for America’s homes and businesses; it is an essential industry for the economy. This is an industry that literally keeps the lights on, and it deserves our gratitude.
Workers in the mining industry have been the unsung heroes of the American economy, and thanks to President Trump, many Americans are being reminded of how much we rely on miners on a daily basis.
In 2017, more than 319,000 Americans were employed by the mining industry, and we must ensure they have a safe and healthful workplace.
We ask so much of these hardworking Americans, and vital policies are in place to provide them with the safest environment possible.
For the federal government, this task falls on MSHA. Created by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, it is the duty of MSHA to establish and enforce regulations governing all mining activities both above and below ground.
Of course, safety is very important to the mining industry as well, and we commend the large majority of law-abiding companies in the industry who do the right thing.
Mine safety remains a major priority for this Committee, and we are particularly interested in how the federal government is regulating the mining industry to ensure the highest standards of safety while also allowing the industry to innovate for the benefit of mine workers and the American economy.
Among other issues, today’s hearing will examine the regulatory agenda of MSHA, and how MSHA intends to work with all industry stakeholders to promote the best possible policies and practices that protect mine workers and encourage economic growth.
Unfortunately, this was not always the stance of MSHA in recent years.
America is seeing a new age of innovation and enthusiasm in the mining industry. The Trump Administration has made clear that it will promote policies that recognize the economic importance of the mining industry, and this Committee intends to play a key role in these efforts.
Congress will continue to work with all of the relevant stakeholders in order to create and promote policies that improve the safety and overall strength of the mining industry.
We urge this administration, as we did the prior administration, to hold bad actors accountable. At the same time, MSHA should direct its focus towards a more collaborative approach with the mining industry to address worker safety.
The American mining industry plays a major role in driving the American economy, and will continue to do so. We look forward to hearing from Assistant Secretary Zatezalo—who I should add is a former miner himself—in order to understand the current state of workplace safety within the industry, and what can be done to strengthen American mining and protect the safety of mine workers.
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