Republican Lawmakers: Obama Must Back Bills We've Already Passed

Saturday, 01 Feb 2014 10:10 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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It's time for President Barack Obama to get to work and support House-passed bills that address issues that he discussed in his State of the Union speech, four Republican lawmakers say in this week's GOP address.

Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana, Gregg Harper of Mississippi,  Martha Roby of Alabama,  and Fred Upton of Michigan, said Saturday that there are already bills that address federal research, job training, workplace rules, and natural gas. Their message echoed a letter House Republican leaders sent to Obama on Thursday.

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On federal research, Harper said that more must be done to set priorities.

"The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act would eliminate public funding for political party conventions and instead fund pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health," said Harper. "We’re talking about everything from cancer, autism, and Fragile X Syndrome to the rarest genetic disorders."

The act won't fix all childhood illnesses, said Harper, but "surely creating a lifetime of hope and opportunity for our most vulnerable kids is more important than subsidizing week-long political pep rallies."

Roby pointed out that the Working Families Flexibility Act would help Americans balance the demands of family and work, and supporting it would help the president's goal of fixing workplace rules he described in his speech as being "from the 'Mad Men' era."

"Whether it's for taking a child to the doctor or taking care of aging parents, many Americans need more flexibility in their jobs," Roby agreed, saying the flexibility act "allows workers in the private sector the option of using their overtime toward paid time off – or comp time – if that's what they'd rather have."

Government employees already have that option, Roby said, "so why not give private sector workers the same choices?"

Brooks pointed out that the SKILLS Act ensures workers can get the right training for jobs, another goal of Obama's.

"As someone who worked at a community college in job training, I know our economy has changed, but the way we train our workers has not," said Brooks.

Under the SKILLS Act, dozens of job training programs already on the books would be consolidated, with a focus put on programs that work and lead to jobs, while "strengthening the vital relationship between our community colleges and job training programs," said Brooks.

Upton, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, said that the National Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act cuts red tape, ensuring pipelines can be built.

He agreed with Obama's statement that natural gas production is good for economy and jobs. However, this cold winter has shown that the nation's infrastructure has not kept pace with growing demands for electricity and natural gas.

The pipeline bill, said Upton, connects natural gas supplies with new manufacturing plants.

The four bills discussed cover a great deal of ground, said Upton, "but they are all about making life work for more Americans," and only need a Senate vote so they will make it to Obama's desk.

"We believe that this can be a year of bipartisan action, a moment when speeches give way to solutions," said Upton.

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