To Be Equal…Jobs bill tackles urban and youth unemployment

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(NNPA)—“Supporting education and training for our youth is a smart investment that can help rebuild local economies and pay dividends over the long term.”—U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

“The future of our economy depends on an educated, skilled workforce that encompasses all individuals—even the most disconnected and at risk.”—Congressman Chaka Fattah

Just when it seemed Congress was no longer capable of working together on any level to serve the best interests of the American people, on July 9 members of both parties in the House of Representatives joined forces to pass a new bipartisan jobs bill, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  With the passage of WIOA, millions of unemployed and under-employed workers and urban youth of color can now receive the job and skills training, as well as the support services, they need to chart a path to a better future. The bipartisan vote in the House was 415-6.  The Senate passed the bill in June with a 95-3 bipartisan majority, and it is now headed to President Obama’s desk for signing.

The decade-plus struggle for congressional renewal of the nation’s preeminent job training legislation was finally won, thanks in large part to the tenacity, commitment and leadership of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania.  As co-sponsors of the Urban Jobs Act, a bill advocated and championed by the National Urban League, they helped craft bi-partisan legislation that responds to the education, skills, and employment needs of millions of individuals who are unemployed or under-employed and face multiple barriers to employment.

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