Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement today concerning yesterday’s passage of H.R. 27, the Job Training Improvement Act:

“I am disappointed that yesterday, the House of Representatives failed to address the needs of American workers. Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) was an opportunity to improve this important act and address the changes taking place in our economy.  Unfortunately, HR 27 will do little to enhance the training and career opportunities of unemployed workers.  Instead, the legislation would eliminate the dislocated worker training program, reduce and restrict services for in-school youth, siphon off funds used to serve veterans and individuals with disabilities, and allow discrimination in hiring based on an individual’s religious beliefs.

It’s bad enough that this bill does so little for American workers, but it also undermines key civil rights protections.  Specifically, I am deeply concerned that the bill repeals current civil rights protections by allowing faith-based organizations to discriminate in hiring based on religion with Federal taxpayer dollars. This is in clear violation of the core principle of separation of Church and State and it is my hope that this legislation will not be enacted into law.   This provision is as needless as it is troubling.  We can and must ensure civil rights protections – unfortunately, a Democratic amendment that would maintain these protections failed to pass.

Finally, though the Republican Party often claims to be one of accountability, this Republican-led bill removed many of the federal performance and accountability measurements that make WIA a quality workforce program. This is not a way to bring accountability to the federal government.

I believe it is critical that Congress do more to create job and training opportunities.  This bill takes a step backwards in our efforts to reach this goal.  It is my hope that Congress will work towards meaningful reforms that will do more, not less, to protect workers and create opportunity for all Americans.”