Ensuring America Maintains a Qualified and Trained Workforce - the "Education for Tomorrow's Jobs Act"

November 22, 2011


In September, President Obama delivered a speech before Congress to discuss the economy. With unemployment now surpassing eight percent for more than two years, it was my hope that the President would move past his ‘stimulus’ spending proposals and put forward targeted proposals for economic growth to help our small businesses and families struggling to make ends meet. Regrettably, the President’s speech outlined more of the same, seeking more stimulus dollars without any credible plan for economic growth.

Unfortunately, we simply can’t afford more government spending, like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was passed by the Democrat-controlled Congress in 2009.  A recent look at, the While House's stimulus website, shows that the Department of Transportation still has billions in unspent stimulus money for transportation related projects, over two and a half years after passage of the 2009 law. Years later, the staggering levels of unemployment remain.  Despite billions of dollars still sitting in government coffers, the President’s proposed “jobs bill” requests to borrow billions in additional spending for transportation-related projects.  Why should the American people believe the President is going to make new stimulus spending be any more effective or move any faster?  

While some of the President’s proposals are worth consideration, the bill in its entirety is no substitute for the targeted, long-term policies needed to remove barriers to job creation, provide certainty to employers and allow the private sector to expand.  It’s time for a new direction and aggressive action though real regulatory and tax relief, not more spending.  

I am proud to say that since the beginning of the 112th Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed more than 20 bipartisan job creating bills, including two jobs bills that were sent to the President for his signature in the past week.  As we move forward, it is my hope that the Senate and the President will work with the House on the remaining House-passed jobs bills and do what is right for the country.  As your Representative, I pledge to you that I will continue to lead this fight to restore fiscal discipline and place our country back on a path to long-term economic growth. 


Advancing Pro-Growth, Pro-Energy Policies to Boost Economic Activity -  

A lot of folks in Washington talk about job creation.  Unfortunately, the Washington myth that government creates jobs continues to be on the lips of many inside the beltway. But the solution to our economic woes isn’t going to come from Washington. It’s going to come from the private sector and our domestic industries – including the energy industry.  Energy access and affordability impacts every facet of our daily lives – it’s the lifeblood of our economy.   

Over the last year, I have continued to advance the expansion of domestic energy production as a logical and viable solution to our economic challenges.  In Congress, I serve on the House Natural Resources Committee, where we have passed bill after bill since January of 2011, to get the ball rolling on expanding domestic energy production.  Despite opposition from the President, many of these measures have passed the full U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support, only to be stalled by the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Included among the 20 bipartisan job creating bills that have passed the U.S. House are commonsense measures that will help spur growth in regions across the country, boost American energy production, and allow for more reliable, low-cost, domestic sources of energy.  Click here to view more information on these proposals.   

Ensuring America Maintains a Qualified & Trained Workforce, Introduction of the "Education for Tomorrow's Jobs Act" -

The recent economic downturn has offered a stark reminder of how critically important it is for our Nation to have a qualified and trained workforce. Strengthening and expanding our skilled workforce is paramount to preserving our nation’s technical job base and remaining globally competitive. 

In October, I introduced H.R. 3154, the Education for Tomorrow’s Jobs Act, which amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind. The Education for Tomorrow’s Jobs Act offers solutions to a problem that is of particular concern to our communities: How we ensure that education is aligned with the real world and prepares students to meet the needs of our workforce.  The measure gives school districts more flexibility in integrating academic subjects with career and technical education, encouraging schools to create partnerships with local businesses, parent groups and other community stakeholders. 

We have seen the harmful effects of Washington’s education mandates and this bill will allow schools to put forth the framework to ensure students have both the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and careers, and live up to the fullest extent of their individual potential.  If you would like to learn more about this bill or issues related to career and technical education, click here.  

Protecting Farmers and Local Communities from Burdensome Federal Regulations -

On November 3, 2011, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry held a public hearing to review Phase II of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and its impact on rural communities.  The Chesapeake Bay TMDL is complex and far-reaching, affecting communities in six states, including Pennsylvania.  States are now in the second phase of a three-part process to limit discharge into the Bay and several of them have raised concerns about the cost and the regulatory burden local communities face in meeting the new limits, which are enforced by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

As Chairman of the Subcommittee, I invited Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Michael Krancer, and Carl Shaffer, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President, to  testify at the hearing.  They emphasized how the Bay TMDL has created major difficulties for the Commonwealth, its municipalities, and Pennsylvania’s farmers attempting to meet EPA’s requirements.  They also outlined how the process is being driven by flawed scientific modeling, arbitrary deadlines from the EPA, instead of economic and scientific assessments.  

Under the Rendell Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection estimated that the cost of the TMDL, under the best case scenario, would cost the Commonwealth alone upwards of $8.7 billion.  It is imperative for members of Congress and the Administration to understand what is being asked of the counties, towns, and municipalities in this process, which was the reason for holding this important hearing.  

Under my leadership as Chairman of the Subcommittee, this was our second hearing focusing on implementation of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.  The Subcommittee’s first hearing, "To review the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, agricultural conservation practices, and their implications on national watersheds," was held on March 16, 2011.  To view additional information on November’s hearing, click here.

"Government Outreach 2011" -

In October, students from high schools across the 5th Congressional District attended “Government Outreach 2011,” a two-day seminar at the Pittsburgh University at Bradford and Lock Haven University.  The event offered students insight into the role of the federal government and information on future career and educational opportunities, including presentations from university officials and area employers, motivational speakers, and a chance for students to ask questions and engage in discussion about their futures. 

I took the opportunity to discuss my own education and career background, and how finding passion through work can create endless opportunity and self worth. I also discussed how my own passion for making a difference in people’s lives is what led me into the field of healthcare and then on to run for Congress, where a key focus of my work is advancing policy solutions in the area healthcare. More than 500 students from across the 5th were in attendance!  To view additional information on “Government Outreach 2011,” click here

Left Picture: University of Pittsburgh at Bradford President, Dr. Livingston Alexander, at Government Outreach 2011.

Honoring our Nation's Veterans -

From every generation, men and women across this nation have stood up and sacrificed their lives for the protection of our freedoms.  On this past Veterans Day, our nation honored all of America's Veterans in recognition of their shared sacrifice and the virtue of each soldier choosing to lay their life on the line for a greater good.  This year, one Veteran in particular stood out in demand of attention and praise from our communities and the Nation:  Air Force Major Thomas E. Clark, of Emporium, Pennsylvania. 

In 1969, while flying an F-100 in a mission over Laos, Major Clark was shot down by enemy fire during the Vietnam War. With the plane crashing into the jungle canopy, the wreckage was not found and Major Clark went missing in action for 4 years.  In 1973, the Air Force determined Clark was “killed in action; body not recovered.'' In 1991, some of the wreckage of the F-100 was found.  Finally, in 2009, an investigation found the remains of Major Clark.  In October, 2011, the Air Force delivered Major Clark to Emporium to have him properly laid to rest in his family's plot. 

Before attending his Mass of Christian Burial in Emporium on October 22, 2011, I recognized Major Clark’s service and sacrifice to the United States of America on the floor of the U.S. House and submitted these remarks for the Congressional Record. To view the video, click here. To learn more about recent legislation in support of America’s Veterans, click here

Right Picture: In November, I had the honor of thanking Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, four-star General Peter Chiarelli, who is retiring after nearly 40 years serving in the Army, for his service to the Nation. 

Pennsylvania Benefits from Passage of Free Trade Agreements -

In times of economic uncertainty, it is imperative that we provide every opportunity possible for our economy to grow and expand. On October 13, 2011, I invited Vern Squier, President of the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County (CBICC), to attend a Joint Session of Congress with South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak.  This event took place the day after Congress passed legislation implementing the U.S.-Korean, U.S.-Colombia and U.S.-Panama free trade agreements.  Before the Joint Session, Vern and I discussed the importance of the agreement and its economic benefit for the 5th Congressional District and the Commonwealth.  

All three of these trade agreements, initially negotiated by the Bush Administration, will help put Pennsylvania farmers in a better position to expand, create jobs, and bring much-needed income to communities across rural America, such as those residing in the 5th Congressional District.  Specifically, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement phases out tariffs on more than 95 percent of industrial and consumer exports within five years, reduces barriers for services, and establishes new labor and environmental enforcement standards between the United States and South Korea. 

According to estimates by the U.S. International Trade Commission, full implementation of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement is estimated to generate nearly 280,000 new jobs nationally, including 9,963 in Pennsylvania.  President Obama recently signed all three agreements into law. 

Website Additions -

In an effort to provide my constituents with more up to date information on important developments in Washington and across the District, I have made some changes to my website. One area in particular is the “Issues” section at the top of the homepage.  In addition to a discussion of key issue areas, you will now find “related documents” at the bottom of each page, including: “legislation and congressional oversight”; “news and opinion”; “speeches and floor statements”; and related commentary from my blog, “Thompson’s Blog.” I’ve also added two new pages for “Education” and “Healthcare.” If you have some time to view these pages and other new updates, click here.