Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) delivers a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives about the American Worker Task Force on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.
Washington, D.C. – This week, the American Worker Task Force (AWTF), a Republican Study Committee (RSC) Task Force Chaired by Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06), released its final report titled, “Reclaiming the American Dream: A Vision to Empower Today’s and Tomorrow’s Worker.” The recommendations, divided into three platforms, aim to refine our education system, refocus labor policy, and reimagine welfare programs to allow American workers and families to thrive.
“The report released today by the AWTF could not be a more timely endeavor as it provides a roadmap that will empower millions of Americans to reclaim his or her American dream,” said Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06), Chairman of the AWTF. “These proposals debunk the bachelors-or-bust mentality and would realign our education system to level the playing field and clear a path for innovative and in demand career opportunities. Additionally, our report recognizes the dignity of work and reforms our failed welfare systems that currently leave generations of Americans in a cycle of government dependence. Our nation is at a cross-roads and this pro-worker agenda that emphasizes the American work ethic and capitalist successes will propel us forward to economic stability and prosperity. I want to thank RSC Chairman Johnson for selecting me to lead this Taskforce as well as all my colleagues who participated for their valued input.”
“Congress has always had a duty to advance policies that empower hardworking Americans to achieve their goals, and that is especially true now in the wake of the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the recommendations in this report, we can make the rebuilding and recovery process even faster and stronger," said Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA), Chairman of the RSC. “I thank my friend Rep. Barr for his leadership on this task force, and I hope to see these policies made into law so we can provide greater opportunity for more Americans than ever before."
This report is the result of over a year and a half of deliberations by the then Task Force members. Members conducted listening sessions with think tanks and policy experts; small business owners and higher education administrators; and workers from across their districts to compile a list of over 100 policy recommendations.
To refine our education system to better equip the American Worker, a partial list of AWTF recommended policies is below:
- Curb the rising cost of tuition and lower student debt by reducing the federal role in the student loan market to allow for more private lenders and link federal support for higher education institutions to post-graduation student success.
- Equalize federal opportunities for traditional four-year colleges and career and technical education (CTE) programs by enacting legislation like the Pell Flexibility Act which would make students in short term CTE programs eligible for Pell Grants. Under current law Pell Grants may only be used for federally accredited programs that lead to traditional four-year college degrees or provide a training program that is at least 15 weeks in length. This inflexibility excludes certain short-term and non-degree programs offered by nontraditional education providers.
To refocus labor policy to unleash the American Worker, a partial list of AWTF recommended policies is below:
- Increase apprenticeship opportunities and allow industries to set their own standards for quality apprenticeship programs by enhancing and codifying the Trump Administration’s Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program rulemaking.
- Remove unnecessary regulations on employers that hinder their abilities to offer increased opportunities for American workers by enacting legislation such as the New GIG act. This legislation would ensure that a worker, that meets three objective tests, is classified as an independent contractor for income and employment tax purposes. This would allow companies to provide their independent contractors with benefits like deals on insurance and matching IRA contributions without them being classified as employees.
To reimagine welfare to empower individuals & families, a partial list of AWTF policies are listed below:
- Reform welfare waivers so that they do not unnecessarily detach SNAP beneficiaries from a labor market capable of supporting them. Congress should codify the Trump Administration’s rule that strengthens work requirements in SNAP for able bodied adults without dependents.
- Decrease dependency on government housing programs by increasing the portability of Housing Vouchers. Housing Choice Voucher program beneficiaries are mostly prevented from using their benefit outside of their local Public Housing Authority (PHA). As a result, workers are discouraged from seeking employment opportunities in areas away from their PHA because of the risk of losing this benefit. AWTF recommends allowing for these benefits to be portable, and for a portion of section 8 housing benefits to be eligible to assist with moving expenses for workers relocating to new employment.
Congressman Barr was selected to be Chairman of the AWTF by Mike Johnson (R-LA). Barr currently serves as a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He is also serving on the House of Representatives China Task Force, which will be issuing its final report in the coming weeks.