On Wednesday the House of Representatives voted 313-109 to approve an amendment to an appropriations bill that would preserve the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center program administered by the U.S. Forest Service. The Trump Administration’s intends to transfer the management of 25 Job Corps Centers from the Forest Service to the Department of Labor (DOL) and permanently close 9 of those 25 centers.
The amendment introduced by Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio would prohibit the government from spending any funds to “alter or terminate the Interagency Agreement between the United States Department of Labor and the United States Department of Agriculture governing the funding, establishment, and operation of Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers”. It would also prohibit funds being used to close any of the 25 Job Corps centers that are now operated by the Forest Service.
Transferring the Centers to the Department of Labor could result in the loss of over 1,000 jobs within the Forest Service.
The centers currently employ more than 1,100 people, operate in 17 national forests and grasslands across 16 states, and provide training to over 3,000 youth and young adults according to Congressman DeFazio.
Information from the U.S. Forest Service said 1,200 CCC students provided the equivalent of 450,000 hours of wildfire support during the height of the 2017 fire season.
If you would like to get into the weeds about how this amendment was introduced and debated on the floor of the House, you can read the transcript published in the Congressional Record, beginning on page H4541.
Representatives who spoke in favor of the bill during the debate included Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Sanford Bishop of Georgia, Dan Newhouse of Washington, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
The lone representative speaking against the measure was Virginia Foxx of North Carolina. Interestingly, the Schenck Job Corps Center in her state was ranked as the number one Job Corps Center out of 123 nationwide during the program year that ended June 30, 2018.
A letter from the National Association of Home Builders backing the amendment was included in the official record. Here is an excerpt:
The recent termination of the Department of Agriculture’s training partnership with Job Corps and subsequent announcement by the Department of Labor (DOL) of nine center closures is deeply concerning to NAHB and its workforce development arm, the Home Builders Institute (HBI), which has trained and placed thousands of students for careers in residential construction through its 45-year partnership with Job Corps. HBI Job Corps programs are offered at 65 centers across the country, and have equipped at-risk youth with the skills and experience they need for successful careers through pre-apprenticeship training, job placement services, mentoring, certification programs, textbooks and curricula.
DOL’s planned Job Corps center closures stand to impact more than 43 construction training programs, six of which are operated by HBI at three of the affected locations. Many of these centers serve rural and dislocated communities and have enrollment numbers exceeding national and regional averages. However, the Department of Labor has not disclosed any performance metrics or data to support its closure determinations and it has provided little information on how it will continue to serve the thousands of at-risk youth who will be displaced from their local centers. Further, DOL has not informed contracted training partners like HBI whether their successfully operating programs–and their administering staff–will be relocated or simply terminated along with the centers they have served.
The amendment passed with a voice vote, but Chip Roy of Texas objected and forced a recorded vote — which also passed, 313-109. All Democrats voted in favor; Republicans voted 81 for and 109 against.
The legislation the measure is attached to is a major bill, the “Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Legislative Branch, Defense, State, Foreign Operations, and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act”, H.R. 2740.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly. Typos or errors, report them HERE.