tv Labor Secretary Acosta Testifies on FY 2018 Budget Request CSPAN June 30, 2017 8:21am-10:02am EDT
ensured after this process was finished than under the affordable care act. they confirmed again yesterday that 22 million people across this country would lose their healthcare. it is with those getting their insurance through other means. there is a recent article in the atlantic which says how the gop's health care bill would effect people ensured through work. it is fewer people would sign up and fewer would offer coverage. millions of people would lose employer sponsored healthcare according to estimates. and so given the promises that were made by many of my colleagues and by the president himself i guess i have a pretty
simple question for you. do you think that the purpose of the outcome of health cancare reform should be to ensure more or less americans? >> senator, healthcare reform, and as we are looking at this health care bill we are asking how can we go forward as a nation with the bill that respects individual choice? ultimately senator murray raised a question around healthcare as well. as we are look at the workplace one issue that certainly i think we need to consider is what does this do in terms of jobs and does the multiplicity of expenses that are put on employers create a disincentive to hire. and so we need to respect individual choice and we also need to consider whether we are going to be creating jobs by in
fact reducing the costs of many of these programs that do place burdens on the economy as a whole. >> let me restate the question. insurance is really important to people. they prefer jobs that have insurance. do you think that the purpose of healthcare reform should be to ensure more people or less people? >> senator, again, the purpose of he'll healthcare reform is to ensure individuals have access to insurance choice.
i do think it's important to provide individuals with choice. >> you're not suggesting the majority of those people are choosing to lose insurance? >> what i'm suggesting is that we have a health care system that imposes a number of mand e mandates and as a nation it is getting increasingly expensive and i'm encouraging congress to work to address those issues. i think it's one of the most important issues that we are facing. he'llcare healthcare is becoming more
costly. it does not come to the conclusion they are the right to decline coverage. healthy individuals may choose to go without healthcare but the vast bullk are losing it becaus they cannot afford it, because it will spiral in the first year. so i understand your comments about choice. it's not the moain cause of why these are catastrophic. >> okay. thank you mr. chairman. >> mr. secretary, i think that's exactly what the cbo report
says. let me go back to what he asked you because i'm not sure about the answer. the president's executive order, do you plan to exempt the construction industry from it? >> senator, the president's executive order provides discretion to the secretary of labor to enact regulations that will guide decision making in under the administrative procedures act i need to issue regulations. i would then need to apply these to a particular fact pattern.
i will say this, the president is looking to expand apprenti apprenticeship across all industries. >> i understand all that. i appreciate it. i'm really not trying to be rude. we are given five minutes. if you don't want to answer the question, just tell me. >> senator, i am trying to answer the question and my point is that the president's executive order to the -- it is looking to expand it and that will have to be determined. >> i get it. let's move on. when you became secretary did you find waste in your budget? >> senator, there are certainly ways of reducing and saving money within any agencies, yes. >> well, you cut $2.6 billion out, right? am i right on that? >> senator, the budget request
does seek a request of 2.6 billion. >> do you support all of those cuts? >> i knowledge that we as a government need to reduce spending. so i do think it's important that we reduce the smepending, yes. >> i agree with you on that. >> we are spending $434 million on the senior community service employment program. could you briefly tell me what that does? >> senator, there are a number of programs within the training employment services budget and over time different areas have developed programs of their own. one of the things that we are looking to do is to streamline the different programs. >> what's that program do? >> so the senior community employment program is to some
extent, as many as -- >> let me put it this way. does it tran cyst to seniors into unsubsidized employment? >> yes. it does. >> okay. that was easy. why do we need to spend $434 million to do that? >> well, senator, as i was saying, there are a number of program that is have developed over time and those programs are all important but we can merge them, streamline them and make them part of larger programs. and so one of the things that the budget looks to do is to streamline. there are well over 40 different job training programs and merging those would be a cost saving measure. >> i agree with you. i'm on your side. you have been around here a long time, a lot longer than i have. i have driven over a good portion of washington. i can't find the money tree.
maybe it's in a warehouse somewhere. i mean the topic, you know, health care, which is extraordinarily important for our country. nobody would deny that. the question is how many people can we afford to insure? i appreciate the president's approach. that's what's being lost in all of this. we are borrowing $1 million a minute to run this place. $1.4 billion a day. i listen to people say add this, add that like we were spending west virginia ditch water
instead of taxpayer money. i wasn't trying to be rude. i was trying to get within my five minutes. >> thank you, senator. >> we assume there's more value the west virginia ditch water than other ditch water, so that's all good. we have a problem in chicago, gun violence primarily among young people, primarily minority population. we find something pretty amaz amazing. if we can get them in a job it does amazing things. it changes their lives. i'm not making it up.
a few weeks ago i met with curtis martin. he got into a program and got him into a job. she working nights at ups. it's not easy work but he's proud of it. he told us that. you're cutting this program by 20%. you know, the president noticed the violence in chicago and tweeted about it on a couple of occasio occasions. i would like to read you what he said. january 24th. if chicago doesn't fix the horrible carnage doing ton i'll send in the feds. february 23rd the president tweeted seven people shot and killed yesterday in chicago. what is going on there? totally out of control. chicago needs help the president
tweeted. how does a 20% cut in a program like the one that helped curtis martin help chicago? >> so let me say a few things. first, i appreciate your point as u.s. attorney. i took steps to address gun violence using prosecutions. one of the points that i made is ultimately prosecutions aren't the solution. we need to find jobs and we need to encourage young people to graduate high school and have skills. that's something that i talked about greatly. just in the past week i had the opportunity to meet with work force councils and then i met with local officials later i'll
be meeting with those of other groups. and my message to all of them is let's work together. let's develop apprenticeship programs that will focus on these populations because the best thing we can do for them is to provide them a pathway to a job by giving them job skills. i understand that the budget reductions are an issue. so we are looking at ways that we can make the programs more efficient and more effective and work with the private sector. >> i hate to interrupt you but i have one more question. i will say this. i would like to invite you to chicago. when we say send in the feds i want to send you in. come over to chicago and see
what the cuts are meaning. second point i want to make. each one to allow skilled workers to come into the united states if they do not displace american jobs. exhibit a, pharmaceutical company announced to 150 of their i.t. workers that they were being terminated, 150 terminated. here was the deal. they were terminated as long as -- or would get an extra benefit for their termination of one month of pay for every year of work if they agreed to two things, first, if they don't say anything publicly about being fired and secondly they train their replacements. their replacements were visa holders from india. it turns out more than half go to two major outsourcing in india. what were they going to do? they were going to replace the american workers. so these pharmaceutical
employees were required to train their employees on the job as americans walked out the door and then the jobs were outsourced to india after these were trained. if president talked about this. he thought it was outrageous. i do too. the president waited until after the award of visas this year to announce a review which i believe involves your department. how many meetings have you had in a review? >> senator, may i answer? let me address both your points. first, i gladly will join you in chicago. i think it's very important. i do want to leave washington and travel and understand all of the issues facing american workers. we have been talking about this quite vigorously.
let me make two points. first, i think what happens as you describe it is offensive. those that know that for me to use those words it means something. it is offensive. we have scoured the law for auctions internally on how to address situations like those. unfortunately our hands, our ability is limited. there is in addition to the larger bill that i'm aware of, there are some very simple fixes. that's $60,000 threshold in the area. you know, it's interesting because congress talks about and i talked about and responded to questions with respect to overtime and others. i said life gets more expensive. when you have $1 threshold it should be updated over time. congress has not update that had
threshold over time. if congress were to update that simply for inflation it would bring it up to well over $80,000. many if not most of the situations like that you have identified would be eliminated because they would not be below that $60,000 threshold. and so perhaps when it was enacted way back when it was an appropriate threshold. i would encourage them because i can't imagine how one explains from an american workers that they have to train their foreign replacement. it has happened again and again and again. >> thank you. >> mr. secretary, what you meant there, what i think you said was if the amount was updated they would be below the updated $60,000 which would now be something close to 80?
>> that is correct. if i did not say that cheerily clearly that was my error. >> so you meant they would be below the updated if. >> below the updated, correct. >> something to talk about and think about. >> let me ask a couple of veterans questions, one that congress passed and you have in your department the higher vets act to create some recognition and standards for employers to figure out how to hire vets and the second question on that topic is the concerns that they had with the current veterans employment efforts being made by the department before you got there. so you want to talk about both of those things? >> gladly, mr. chairman. let me say that i'm reminded that congress has not updated that figure since 1998 and things have certainly gotten more expensive since the 1990s.
it is interesting because i was very excited. i think it's very important that we recognize employers. i said what are we doing for this veterans day? i was told that the regulations couldn't be done by this veterans day. i saidn't can't take that long to write regulations for awards. we are expediting them. i should also say that the rules call for the request for nominations to go out in january. we may not be able to do this fechb we can remove it quickly because of the rules in which case i may take it upon myself to give the equivalent this veteran's day because i don't want to wait another year and a half to do this. >> good answer. this is sort of like the
standard you're getting. this would be your standards for employers and what kind of training they give. what about the current effort ts being made for veterans? i think one of the criticisms is there's a lack of transparency with regard to which employment training services are meeting performance goals and there were others in that report. >> so one of the issues around veterans job services is they are scattered around the executive branch. one is does it make sense to consolidate them in one way shape or form? there are at least three that are responsible for veteran job and working with veterans. that does lead to some level of
confusion. i will say this. it's a top priority. these individuals served their nation and they deserve not just to be treated with respect but they deserve to have a job when they arrive here. let me add one additional issue. i know this committee appropriated funds to look at certifications among the various states. one issue that i have been made aware of that i think is very important is that a veteran can be trained to drive a commercial truck yet they come state side and they may not have the ability to drive a commercial truck in a particular state because states have different licensing requirements. one of the concerns that i have and one question that i have is can we look at ways of working with states so that they recognize military licenses and
certificatio certifications. >> it takes me perfectly to my next question. this bill included $7.5 million to continue accomplishing and certainly at the top of that priority list would be skills you learn serving the country. right up there with that are spouse that is move from state to state as their spouses transferred from one military base to the other. so that would be a second criteria and maybe even more important to the active service than the first criteria. the third would be generally what are we doing so when somebody moves across the river from illinois to missouri that they bring those skills with them, that there's some reciprocity or understanding of
that. of course you weren't there but what are you going to do about it? >> i know that a report is due that has been funded by those appropriations this fall. i can tell the chairman that i have been talking with my own staff ability this since i first learned about it. particularly in the veteran's side i don't know how you justify telling someone it was okay for you to drive a truckful of explosives but not okay for you to drive a truck full of coca-cola or pepsi. that is something that is difficult to swallow and something i think is a priority and will commit to boricing with others that dead receive this funding. i know there's ten states that's being put together and i have already talked to me staff about tapping into that to make sure it proceeds.
>> thank you. >> you asked senator murphy about how many people would drop coverage voluntarily i guess for lack of a better word. the report indicates to me that 15 million people will drop coverage because there will be no fine if they are not covered. do you understand it that way too? >> senator, i have not -- let me say this. the report is something that before i comment on -- >> do you know the answer to my question? >> senator -- >> my question is it's my belief that the cbo report says 15 million americans will drop coverage they have today because they won't have to pay a fine because we eliminate the fine. >> senator, i won't contest your belief. >> i may be wrong, but chikt out. you don't have to answer right
now. are you familiar with the returning worker problem with the visa program? >> yes i am. legislatively congress said returning workers are not counted against the cap. do you intend to fix that? >> let me address that in two ways because this is an important issue. first, congress this year empowered it would be the highest level we have seen in a number of years. along with that though i think it's important to say that congress looks at this year by
year and rather than fixing the issue sort of says the administration can do it if it would like to and then calls the administration and says please increase it. i think it's very important that congress address this. there are specific fixes that can be -- that can be -- >> until we get there but you do have the authority to not count returning orders against the cap. is that correct? >> i believe the statute instead says that we can increase the cap by up to the amount of returning workers and i believe secretary kelly has already indicate his intent do so. >> do you support that decision if. >> yes. we stand shoulder to shoulder. >> give us suggestions of how to fix this ourselves. >> i will gladly sit down and have our staff sit down with yours. i do think it's a disservice to
the businesses and to the individual workers to go through this every single year. >> i'm very open minded about helping you fix it. one last thing, artificial intelligence, did you say it would be 50 years before we feel the effect of artificial intelligence or was that somebody else? >> i have no idea. who said that. it certainly wasn't me. >> okay. it may have been the other guy. do you believe it will be 50 years before artificial intelligence disrupts the work force? >> i have heard this from time to time from various forces. i'll say this. we have been saying that technology is going to disrupt the labor force since technology was first invenlted. >> right. >> a lot of it is true. >> it is. ultimately that fewer people
thood plow a field but ultimately it changes the nature of the labor force and that's why it is so important to have -- >> is there job skills? is there a plan within the department of labor to look specifically at the disruptive nature of artificial intelligence in the coming decade? >> senator, we have started speaking about the changing nature of the work force, the increasing use of alternative methods of employment and that's something we are already talking about. >> does that include -- >> yes. it does. >> thank you very much. >> thank you! thank you very much. thank you for being here. i appreciate it very much. secretary, i'm sure you know about this. my colleague and i introduced a bill to protect protection act. i guess what i would ask you is
the department of labor activity working on solutions for problem because it will be by 2022. >> it is going to be a tremendous problem. we are working on developing solutions for this and for the broader issues that this touches upon. >> do you have recommendations for the bankruptcy laws that need to be changes so that human beings will be changed more than financial institutions? >> i don't have recommendations at this time. >> would you -- >> we are looking at options and discussing it. >> the mind safety health administration funding request underlying is to prevent minor fatalities and dangerous occupation. as you know in 2016 eight min s
minors -- president trump requested 379 million. for 2018 that's an increase from 374. i guess i would ask your plan, do you think you have the necessary resources to prevent future mining fatalities? >> senator, as you indicated the budget is relatively unchanged and we do believe we have the necessary resources. >> how do you intend to encourage the in which mine employees are encouraged to speak up? do you a plan along those lines? i think there's an awful lot of -- oh, mentality, if you will, around that some people won't say anything because they
are afraid of losing their job. others encourage someone if you see something wrong and you can fix it please do so. have you we vail waited this? >> i think there is a sense to report issues. i think it's something that we are always looking to address and fight against. i should also say that something that you see particularly in the mining area is frequent inspections to try to identify safety issues and so even when they are not reported in the ideal cases and in most cases the inspections do turn tup safety issues.
osha resources are already strained a too many workers being put in dangers. 4,836 workers were killed on the job across our country. i asked the secretary, given the danger so many workers face, why do you believe the department of labor is shifting osha resources away from inspections and don't you think it might endanger more workers? >> senator, if i could, the osha budget does shift approximately $2 million into compliance assistance. it does reflect a belief that
some of the programs that are long standing that work with particular companies to foster an industry and foster compliance systems may produce -- not may but the evidence shows actually do produce better safety outcomes. and so it's a net of about a $2 million shift. >> it looks like your shift is focusing away from enforcement inspections. how would it be safer? >> let me just say when you're talk about a funding request of $543 million a $2 million shift with due respect is pretty much under 1% and that is so that question fund the vpp program that has in fact been shown to be very you canful working with companies and saying these are the steps you need to take so
that you can provide a safe workplace. and so as i said at the opening, the fact that we are engaged and telling people what they need to do to have a safe workplace doesn't mean that we have any less enforcement. it just means that we are respecting them and saying this is what you need to do and if they don't do it -- >> so your focus -- >> absolutely. >> if you have time there will be a second round of questions here. >> thank you very much. thank you for being here. i hope we get through this in five minutes. one is at the topic. a lot of debates have been historically over the last few years treating some of the challenges to work in america as it were undergoing some sort of challenge. this is a structural disruption. we have had these before.
they will be american robots instead of mexican robots. ke can't turn the clock back. we could but it will be devastating to do so in terms of the nature of technology's role. if we could anticipate what it would be it would be a valuable tool to develop curriculum to begin to address it. the key worker 25 year frs now is probably in grade school today. if they are not acquiring those skills we will have a real challenge in terms of global competitiveness. i hope we are not just viewing next year's needs understanding
how difficult it is to anticipate some of these changes. i always told my youngest child the job that he may end up having probably hasn't been invented yet. nevertheless, that's that. on the certification it extends into things like nursing and health care. say someone had a profession and some period of time in which that license would be recognized giving them to time to take the state licensing for whatever that capacity might be. i look briefly at what the gi bill covers. i believe it covers the cost of certification tests.
it is a 21st century necessity. how we get there is complex. big companies, large employers and people that make a lot of money are offered paid leave and many of the are offered. you see people receiving paid leave. i don't want them to lose it. has any thought been given as you taylor their proposal to how we can concentrate our efforts here on the people at the lower end of the income spectrum has
some thought been given towards what we do to be at that end of the scale as opposed to throughout the entire system? the fear is that we create some sort of incentive to offer less of it there is an interesting book that's been written that calls it because with each cycle technology changes faster and faster. so ten years ago the iphone that i suspect most in this room have in that are pocket or the smart phone they have in their pocket
didn't exist. facebook was limited to college campuses. so what will the world look like ten years from now? it is hard to imagine because it hasn't been invented. one of the reasons we talked about demand driven education is because we believe that it's very important that education and work force education particular be nimble enough to respond to changing work force need and to predict changing work force needs because technology will change the skill that is are required. moving quickly to your question regarding paid believe, the administration put forward a ro pose sal. i know that has been discussed vigorously. some say that it's not enough. some say it's not calibrated. ultimately it is a proposal. it is the start of a conversation that is a very important conversation.
have a thousand 34 more coal miners it is in that regard and are very much appreciated. in the context of losing so many jobs, tens of thousands of jobs programs were created within the labor department to help dislocated workers to reajust. it's been funded at 19 and $20 million and i believe this is still very much needed. do you have any incites now that it's been two years in the making as to what's been effected dislocated minors and where you're seeing success? >> i don't have that data but i'm more than happy.
>> we would love to have you in west virginia. the initiative on apprenticeships i think is very much welcome in a state that has traditionally had many unions that have successfully employed people through their apprenticeships program. that mode of getting the worker trained and to a job has been successful in the past. i want to join with the administration efforts to expand that. >> thank you. i would be more than happy to visit once again west virginia. thank you. >> lastly, your budget also has for the dislocated worker 66 million to provide workers for employment and training. this is great as we have talked about. as your justification you said it will target services previously provided by the
regional commission. i take exception that the commission even though in the president's budget it was zeroed out i think we'll fight hard and we have a bipartisan group here to make sure we retain the economic developments of the arc. i would like to work with you to not only train but all of the economic efforts of getting it back on its fooe feet again. we have a huge opiod issue around our regions that's coupled with joblessness and a lot of hopelessness in some cases. so your department is absolutely critical to the folks that i live in and around to getting us back on our feet. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. i know you have heard a lot about apprenticeship programs. most strongly support them but i'm really concerned that the
president's executive order serve as a distraction from what's happening in this budget where there's a huge slash in the investment scenarios like work force, public health and education. these have been supported, these investments on this committee. we have been able to fund investments in register aid paren tis ship grants. these have actually put tens of thousands of workers on a proven path to the middle class and helped address employers needs for skilled workers. it includes fake colleges to develop low quality programs
that benefit at the expense of workers. so tell us why the president chose to undermine the registered program that is bipartisan support here rather than what we know works. >> thank you for the question. it's something that i have been reading about. as you mentioned, amentis ships are proven. the resulting wage is sit a proven system. it sets up a mechanism to allow these programs to grow across industries, not just limited to the traditional industries like building where they have been used but across industries.
we have had even individuals that were part of the order where they participated. also increase in scale. the approach taken is not an approach that sacrifices quality. my personal perspective is that this will not and should not sacrifice quality because the industry hasn't -- an interest because they have an interest in assuring a skilled work force. it will urge you to look at at how they many of these issues. it encourages the american medical association to credit medical schools yet we don't hear discussion of how there's a sacrificing in quality among medical schools because we looked to the american medical association. >> i don't immediate to speed
you up but i only have a minute and a half. i hear what you're saying. i want you to know that's how i look at this and we have to make sure those apprenticeship programs provide highly skilled qualified work force. details matter on this. i want to follow up on senator rubio's question to you about paid leave. i heard what he was saying. i am -- i have looked at this. the president provides new parents with six weeks of paid leave but the way it pays for it is it suggests that states pay for it. which exclude women and workers. those exact people that senator rubio said need it. to make matters worse state unemployment benefits are extremely low. so low that workers will not be able to afford leave even if it
were technically available. the president's proposal only focuses on new parents. people need leave to leave if their parent or child is seriously ill. so that concerns me as well. and i just want you to know i'm following this very closely. i think paid leave is extremely important but we can't just throw out a proposal as if because states can't make up that. we have to be serious about it. we have to be sure that those people who have paid leave tend to be the more highly paid workers. they are not the ones i'm so worried about. i'm worried about the clerks at the grocery store and snurnursed other folks that need it as well. thank you. >> thank you senator murray. for me to take any of my time defending cbo i can think of
many more cases over the years where cbo was wrong like when day had the implementation of medicare part d costing almost twice as much as it actually cost over the cost over the first year and the years to follow that. or when the affordable care act was scored by cbo. there would now be 25 million people getting insurance in the individual market instead of the nine that are getting insurance in the individual market. so cbo scoring is notoriously bad. i'm sure it's not accurate here. but if you want to look at that 22 million figure, they say 15 million of those people would be uninsured because the penalty was removed and they would choose not to have insurance if there wasn't a personnalty. that is a big number. i did check on the last scoring
of the house bill. i think 3 million people currently have medicaid at no cost, which is not to have medicaid if you eliminate the penalty for not having insurance. that's the cbo view of that future, not necessarily the one that will turn out to be accurate. on the h 2 b issues, you pointed out the committee gave quite a bit of flexibility and encouragement to deal with that, as we have for some time. whatever you and general kelly would like to talk about in terms of how we get a long-term solution instead of a short-term, i think, is a perfect fine idea. but not for this year. this is going to take longer to put together. the facts -- i think even some discussion of looking at a regional impact number with senator mcculski.
she was very interested in fishermen and crabmen who have no impact in missouri but have a big impact on maryland. i understand that and appreciate it, but what happens this year is what needs to be dealt with right now. if you move forward, how quickly do you think you, between you and homeland security, would be at a place -- >> snorkelly and i have spoken. he has indicated publicly his intent to increase the cap pursuant to the authority. we've spoken about how quickly we can move forward.
he is working to move forward as expeditiously as possible with the understanding that individuals are waiting for those visas. i would defer to dhs, but i would say that senator kelly is moving forward as expeditiously as possible. it's important to not do this year after year but to have a permanent fix so that we're not putting all these businesses and all these individuals in this position of uncertainty again. >> yeah. i think that's a perfectly reasonable thing to do as long as we realize that's what we ought to be talking about after your study is done as your study is being done, it would be impractical to try to do that this year but i think very practical to do that in the future. i think that's what senator graham said as well.
let's talk about job corps for just a minute. there are 125 job corps centers in the united states. three of them are in missouri. i think in the bill that the congress voted on in april we increased job corps by about $15 million. this proposal cuts it by $256 million with expressed intention i think at the department that some of these job corps sites would be closed, maybe as many as 20. i really have three questions. o one, what methodology would you use to decide what centers to close? how would you relocate any students in those centers? and are you committed to keeping at least one center in every state? >> senator, thank you for those questions. first let me take them in order.
first methodology. i think it's very important to have -- if -- depending on where the budget ends up, we need to have a methodology because these are very sensitive centers. that methodology should be based on outcomes. the measure should be sensitive to differences in regions. so a region that has significant challenges in jobs and job growth may have a job corps center that is phenomenally successful even though the employment rate is a little bit lower than the employment rate of another job corps center that is in a region that is experiencing economic growth. so the outcome needs to be a regionally adjusted employment
outcome measure. certainly it would be the case that we would notify members of the senate and members of congress before closing any job corps center because they are important to districts and to states. and so i can't commit to not -- you know, to ensuring that there's one in every state, but i can certainly commit to notifying members of congress and members of the senate so that members of both the house and senate -- so there's at least an opportunity for a full sum discussion. but at the end of the day i do think it needs to be based on metrics. >> what about the students in centers you would close? >> i think that would have to be looked at very closely. my hope is that we could use the equivalent of a teach out method
which is what's used in colleges. let me make two final points. this is a discussion that congress has from year to year and it's something that i'd be committed to working with with the committee staff on, because it is important and i do recognize from my visits with so many members of the committee the importance of these centers. and so i don't think this should be a unilateral, but i do think it needs to be part of a more full sum discussion. >> thank you, mr. secretary. the record will stay open for one week for additional questions and the subcommittee stands at recess.