Barletta Continues to Fight for Job Corps Students
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) received commitment from U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Alexander Acosta to work directly with the Congressional Job Corp Caucus, which Barletta co-chairs, to protect and improve this important program. Barletta questioned Secretary Acosta during a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing entitled “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Labor.” Barletta also took the opportunity to applaud the Secretary’s rapid response to Congressional inquiries into a reduction in training slots within the Job Corps program, despite a one percent funding increase from Congress.
“I am honored to serve as the Republican Co-Chair of the Job Corps Caucus because it is a program I truly believe in and have seen the benefits of first-hand,” Barletta said. “That’s why I was disappointed to see that earlier this year, the Employment and Training Administration [ETA], which falls within your department, announced severe cuts to Job Corps’ student slots, despite a one percent funding increase from Congress. I appreciate that your department rescinded these cuts last week, but I would also like to make sure that a similar situation doesn’t arise in the future. Can you please provide information on why ETA initially sought to cut Job Corps student slots despite a funding increase from Congress? And, given that Job Corps faced fiscal mismanagement and contracting challenges under the Obama Administration, can you please detail what you are doing to ensure ETA is appropriately managing the Job Corps’ budget?”
Secretary Acosta responded by first acknowledging Barletta’s work the prior week to lead a Congressional letter opposing the proposed Job Corps cuts and “noted that there was an article in the Hazleton papers that addressed this issues more generally.”
The Secretary further stated that “it might make sense, and if there is a Job Corps Caucus to start a discussion among the Co-Chairs of that caucus, because the Job Corps program in one way is a wonderful program that provides a lot of workforce education and can lead to jobs – it can change lives. In another way, as the Chairwoman mentioned, there are significant safety concerns; there are inefficiencies; there are sole-sourced contracts that raise concerns for me – sole sourcing is not the traditional way to issue government contracts. And I think it is appropriate for a more fulsome discussion so we can determine how best to use the taxpayer dollars in a way that fulfills the mission that you just mentioned – putting
individuals to work.”
Last week, Barletta claimed victory in his fight to protect the Job Corps program from impending cuts by the ETA, which falls under the DOL. Along with Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Congressman Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (D-GA), Barletta led a bipartisan letter expressing concerns over a recently announced plan to reduce Job Corps student capacity to 33,532 total students in 2017. This amounted to a reduction of 4,662 training slots, despite the program receiving a one percent funding increase in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017. The letter garnered over 100 bipartisan signatures. Within hours of submitting the letter, Barletta’s office received word that the DOL would reverse the cuts.