Senate Democrats

Democrats Investing in America’s Priorities: Strengthening Our Workforce

Since the recession began in December 2007, the nation has lost more than 3.6 million jobs and the national unemployment rate has skyrocketed to 7.6 percent.  Funding the federal programs that strengthen, invest in, and grow the American workforce is not only critical to our immediate economic recovery, but our long-term economic competitiveness.  H.R.1105, the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, makes key investments in labor to get Americans working again now and into the future.

The bill would provide annual appropriations for:

Infrastructure Projects.  H.R.1105 would allocate $40.7 billion for the Federal-aid Highway Program, which is $483.9 million above the 2008 funding level.  These funds are important not only because they will create or save thousands of jobs, but also because failing to invest in transportation increases congestion which costs the nation approximately $78 billion each year.  Additionally, every $1.25 billion investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure supports approximately 35,000 jobs.

The bill would provide a total of $15.39 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is $865 million above the 2008 funding level.  Specifically, the legislation would allocate $9.04 billion for FAA operations that would be used to improve aviation safety and air traffic organization, and to boost the hiring and training of air traffic controllers and aviation safety inspectors. 

The legislation would also fund the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) at $10.1 billion, which is $773 million above the 2008 funding level.  The funding provided to FTA would support improved bus and rail service.   The funding is important because every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation can return up to $30 million in business sales alone.

Employment and Training.  H.R.1105 would provide $3.6 billion for training and employment services, $50.2 million above the 2008 funding level.  This amount includes:

·         $1.2 billion for dislocated worker employment and training state grants to provide reemployment services and retraining assistance to Americans who have been or are about to be laid off;

·         $861 million for adult employment and training state grants to teach jobs skills and provide job placement services to lower-income Americans; and

·         $924 million for youth employment and training state grants to provide targeted job training and job placement services for at-risk youth and those in high-unemployment areas.

The legislation would also provide $1.7 billion, $73.4 million above the 2008 funding level, for Job Corps, a residential education, job training, and job placement program for at-risk youth and young adults.

The billwould provide $571 million for the Community Service Employment for Older Americans, which provides work-based training at community service organizations to help lower-income older Americans seeking to remain in or re-enter the workforce.

The measure would provide $239 million, which is $11.3 million above the 2008 funding level, for veterans employment training to address the needs of homeless veterans, including homelessness prevention.

Unemployment Insurance Programs.  H.R.1105 would provide $3.7 billion, which is $278 million above the 2008 funding level, to support grants to states to administer state unemployment insurance programs and employment services operations.

 Workplace Safety.  H.R.1105 would provide $513 million for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is $27 million above the 2008 funding level, to rebuild the agency’s workplace enforcement capacity and increase the pace of its standard setting.   The legislation would also provide $347 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), which is $15 million above the 2008 funding level.  The appropriation would better enable MSHA to implement the MINER Act and improve workplace health and safety of our nation’s miners. 

College Affordability. H.R.1105 would provide discretionary funding to support a maximum Pell Grant of $4,860, which is $619 over the 2008 level.  Combined with mandatory funding in the College Cost Reduction Act, the maximum Pell Grant would increase to $5,350 in the 2009-2010 school year.  Pell grants provide need-based financial assistance to nearly seven million low- and middle-income undergraduate students and their families to pay for college and vocational training. 

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