The House was called into session starting this past Monday, and I really looked forward to championing legislation that would help America rebuild the great economy we had prior to COVID.
As a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a caucus consisting of 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats each committed to working on solutions, I was pleased to help unveil the “March To Common Ground” framework. We came together on this to help break the gridlock on the latest COVID-19 relief package and encourage negotiators to get back to the table. Our system of government designed by James Madison requires consensus building and compromise. The work of the Problem Solvers provides hope that Congress can come together across the aisle and solve the most pressing issues our country is facing. You can read my news release here and the full framework can found here.
Another way to rebuild our economy is to grow the opportunities for career and technical education. As a member of the Career and Technical Education Caucus, that is why I joined the push for four pieces of legislation specifically targetting this area.
H.R. 898, the Skills Investment Act of 2019, enhances the Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, which are tax-advantaged savings accounts for educational expenses. American workers can use those accounts to pay for skills-based learning, career training, and workforce development. Workers can make tax-free payments and withdrawals for eligible expenses. This is similar to a health savings account, but for educational expenses. In addition, both workers and employers will receive tax credits for contributions to the accounts.
H.R. 7032, the Skills Renewal Act, creates a flexible Skills Training Credit in the amount of $4,000 per person which may be applied to cover the cost of a wide range of training programs that build skills expected to be in high demand by employers in the coming months. The refundable tax credit may be applied to the cost of training programs located anywhere along the postsecondary pipeline, including apprenticeships, stackable credentials, certificate programs, and traditional two and four-year programs.
The Cybersecurity Skills Integration Act, H.R. 1592, would create a pilot program within the Department of Education to award competitive grants to education-employer partnerships for the development, implementation, and/or expansion of postsecondary CTE programs that integrate cybersecurity education into curricula preparing students for careers in critical infrastructure sectors. The bill would also ensure that workers in training for jobs in these industries are prepared for today’s cyber threats.
The Transportation Workforce Centers of Excellence Act of 2020, H.R. 6032, would provide $50 million over five years in competitive grants to strengthen education and training programs in targeted industries. Grants will be disbursed to Centers of Excellence in Transportation Workforce Training, which will consist of consortia of high-performing two-year colleges. The bill authorizes investments to develop career pathways that lead to credentials in transportation-related industries that could range from manufacturing to operation, design and engineering of infrastructure. The legislation prioritizes providing on-the-job training and work-based learning, developing dual enrollment programs to train high school students, promoting training related to new technologies and outreach and career counseling to increase participation in the transportation sector. It also promotes partnership and collaboration among employers, state agencies, and other community partners to address training needs.
These are just some of the areas I am working on as part of my commitment to Nebraska and America to rebuild our economy.
Don Bacon, Member of Congress