Creating jobs is most important issue facing the nation, and Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who has introduced legislation to help with the issue, says Senate Democrats have blocked his plan for political reasons.
"Instead of tackling the causes of unemployment and underemployment, too many politicians are focused only on the effects and on making political points," Scott said in Saturday's GOP weekly address. "We should without a doubt make sure folks get a hand up, but more importantly, that they have a solid foundation on which to stand."
Scott's proposed legislation would help people learn new job skills while consolidating duplicate federal workforce training programs into a flexible workforce investment fund.
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“As someone who grew up in poverty, I know the hard choices facing so many families every night," said Scott. "And as a former small business owner, I know the importance of ensuring that the next generation of Americans is the most well-trained, best-educated workforce the world has ever seen."
He noted that job creation has been a problem for the past six years, and that there are currently 4 million open jobs in America, including 65,000 in his home state of South Carolina, that go unfilled because there is a lack of workers trained to do them.
"That’s four million families that could sleep a little better at night and thousands of businesses that could become more profitable and offer more opportunities for their employees," said Scott. Less bureaucracy would mean more resources to help those in need, rather than being caught up in red tape and regulations.
"Instead of having 35 separate federal workforce training programs with expensive overhead and administrative costs, let’s simplify them into one flexible Workforce Investment Fund," said Scott. “Instead of throwing billions of dollars each year at these programs with no measurable end results, let’s give states and localities the flexibility they need to develop targeted plans to help low-income families, young folks, those with disabilities and of course the unemployed, the long-term unemployed and the underemployed."
Scott said the Skills Act, which he introduced, will do just that. The plan passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, under the "great leadership" of North Carolina Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, and Scott introduced it as an amendment to the Senate unemployment insurance bill.
But on Thursday, the Senate agreed to cloture — or limit debate — on a five-month extension of unemployment benefits, reports the National Journal
, with 61 senators, including six Republicans, voting for the measure.
The agreement will allow a vote to pass the extension on Monday, but it won't include Republicans' attempts to attach a comprehensive amendment to the bill that includes not only the Skills Act, but numerous other GOP-championed plans that have met in recent months with opposition from Democrats.
The provisions also called for authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline, repealing Obamacare, blocking new Environmental Protection Agency emissions regulations, and prohibiting a carbon tax.
Scott said Saturday that "unfortunately, Senate Democrats, for some reason — I can only imagine a political reason — blocked its passage this week," said Scott. "Simply put, the American people deserve better than that. A modern, efficient workforce development system is essential to our future."
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