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tv   Labor Sec. Acosta on Presidents 2020 Labor Budget Request  CSPAN  April 8, 2019 10:20am-12:35pm EDT

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does it mean to be an american? are c-span bus was recently in arizona. here's what people there had to say. >> for me what it means to be an american is to be involved with, passionate, supportive and thankful to the persons, the veterans, the institutions, the processes that protect our freedoms in this great democrac democracy. >> i am american. i am so proud, and what that means to me is that i, a former undocumented person who came in search of the american dream was able and was given a pathway to citizenship. and now as an american i serve americans in arizona. and every dream is possible. that's what it means to be an american to me. >> for me it means that i can work in a country that allows me
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of the freedom of any jump i want. i am 699. i'm still teaching students and they allow me to do that here. i can teach diverse students. i can teach american government, american history. i have the choice and freedom to affect students lives in these areas. >> what it's like to be an american, to me it's the fight for social, economic and departmental justice. our planet is in dire peril. our country is an unprecedented turmoil and to think we need to fight everyday to those more vulnerable and so our department and ensure the romantic day is at least as good for our kids and grandkids as it is for us today. >> voices from the road on c-span. >> now labor secretary alex acosta testifies before a house appropriations subcommittee about president trump's 2020 budget request for his department. this is about two hours and ten
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minutes. >> the hearing will come to order, thank you. welcome, mr. secretary. thank you very, very much. good to see back at the subcommittee. this is our fourth budget hearing this year. today what we looking at is the presidents 2020 budget request for the department of labor. i have to acknowledge for for a moment that you do come before the committee under a cloud of controversy regarding the epstein case and questions around the adequacy of your position as a cabinet official. but you are still the secretary of labor who must answer for the proposed budget, and as such that is where i intend to keepti
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my attention today. i want to highlight some facts about your budget and agency, where the country looks for worker protection and opportunity. my words may seem harsh, secretary, but really are a response to 17 pages of testimony in which i read. i read very carefully. that in my view are divorced from reality and really read like propaganda. past administrations filled senior positions. but in the trump administration it is 54%. but at the bottom of that list is the department of labor come along with i might add interior and justice which filled only 43%.
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you have limited corporate liability when franchisee,, contractors, subcontractors, staff agencies and the like can get wage that hurting working people. you have allowed child labor in health professions putting teenagers at risk of injury. and over all, since the beginning of the administration, enforcement activities in the workforce have been on a steady decline. you lost electronic reporting, keeping the public ongoing detailed workplace injury information. you yet shortchanged 3 million americans and workers from getting their overtime. you have shattered the department of labor here you have weakened protections for construction and shipyard workers from beryllium exposure. you have allowed contractors who cheat their workers to continue with, quote, business as usual; and mine safety.
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a recent study in the american journal of public health found that black lung cases are at a 25-year high in appalachian coal mining states. that is why the department's office of the inspector general cited mine operator compliance with the respirable coal dust rule in its 2018 top management and performance challenges facing dol. and it alarms me that you would put the coal dust rule of for public comment, given the igs report. so my question is, have you shattered the department of labor? is the department of labor no longer functioning? are you just there for industry to do whatever it wants? and that is before we get to this budget. the president's fiscal year 2020 budget proposes to cut $703 million from job corps that
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would shutter centers across the country; $15 million from reentry employment opportunities that provide employment and training services to youth and adults with criminal records; $68 million from the international labor affairs bureau, the agency that investigates labor violations in trade agreements with our trading partners and reports on products that are made with child or forced labor; $11 million from the office of disability employment policy, which would hurt americans with disabilities; the following are eliminated entirely.oy $400 million from the senior community service employment program, which hurt our seniors; $89 million from migrant and seasonal farmworkers job training, which hurt vulnerable working people and their families, often people of color; $11 million from susan harwood
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training grants that provide training and education on safety and health hazards in the workplace; hurting working people. i provide this information so we all understand the context of what is occurring in youral department. now, let me remind you and everyone of the mission of the department of labor. its mission is to, quote, foster, promote, and develop the welfare of wage earners, jobre seekers, and retirees of the united states; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights. since its inception, this department offered so much promise for working people. yet you are seeking to shutter it for the people who rely on the agency to protect them and
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provide them opportunity.g you are taking the agency away from enforcement, away from weeding out bad actors, away from being a tough cop on the beat to being an ally of industry. that is true of the president's proposed budget cuts to the amounting to $1.2 billion. i cited a number of those cuts earlier. many are recycled proposals, which we handily rejected last year.. i expect we will again. but, and my colleagues have heard me say this, i believe this budget is cruel and reckless. this is an agency that has been historically underfunded. and now we are looking at a 10% cut. and you say we can do more with
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less. but it would appear that we are doing less with less. a lot less with less. the result is that i believe the department of labor has become a shell of an agency. it is a pattern of this administration. this is our last budget. hearing and as a look across the subcommittee we have seen this play out with for-profit colleges and loan services,, unregulated, unaccountable, corporate giveaways that hurt the young and the old. let me look at registered apprenticeships, where you would expect much more from the department of labor and this budget. first, you propose level fund. it's not in the leak with what is happening in europe, in switzerland, germany where as many ass half of students go through strong, accountable
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apprenticeship programs. it is not in line with that in size or scope or accountability. this administration prefers unregulated and unaccountable programs and priorities. a former staffer at the department of labor and department of education who is now with new america wrote an excellent piece in inside higher ed on the risks of the trump administrations' plans to deregulate apprenticeship. she said, quote, rather than focus its efforts on growing our small but high-performing system of registered apprenticeship, the administration has opted for building an entirely new system of industry-recognized apprenticeship programs, or iraps. these iraps have little to nono accountability, much like with predatory for-profit colleges. ms. mccarthy makes that point in her piece. quote, the administration is copying the system used to ensure quality in the lowest-performing and most fraud-ridden sector of higher
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education, a system that has repeatedly failed to protect student and taxpayers for its new approach to apprenticeship and once federal dollars are on the line, the risks and scale of potential harm increase exponentially. it is not just favoring iraps. the administration is undermining the women in apprenticeship program and the workforce data quality initiative, which is supporting, quote, evaluation and research on the effectiveness of workforce and education programs. instead, the administration is pushing unregulated and unaccountable programs and policies. in every area you are shutting the department of labor. so, too with the department's push to expand association health plans. these junk health insurance plans can circumvent accountability and patient protections like the essential health benefits, to the detriment of patients. on a macro level, they will lead to higher premiums in the individual and small group markets. on the micro level, they will
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mean higher costs for americans who expect their plan to cover basic services like maternity, but may not. it is bad for patients and for and it is just another salvo in the administration's political campaign to undermine the affordable care act. i am not alone in being critical of these plans. the federal courts have stopped key provisions of your rule to expand junk plans. on march 28th, a federal judge appointed by president bush said the department's interpretation of the law, the employee retirement income security act of 1974, is quote absurd and that the rule authorizing these association junk plans quote does violence to the law. does violence. i believe you are doing violence to the agency and its mission, writ large.
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i want to quote one of my heroes and the longest serving labor secretary in our nation's history: frances perkins. she said, quote, the people are what matter to government, and a government should aim to give all the people under its jurisdiction the best possible life. that is how i view the mission of this department. unfortunately, i think this budget request, and the litany of rollbacks you have undertaken, fail miserably in fulfilling that mission. instead, you are hollowing out of the department of labor. it is a fundamental failure to govern. we will continue to oppose the cuts you have made, which would hurt the young and the old. we will continue to oppose the rollbacks you are pushing, which would take the cop off the beat and abandon working people to bad-acting corporations. and we will continue to oppose your attacks on this storied
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agency. i would norman and turns over to my calling and ranking member, but cox medical is testifying in another committee, so mr. secretary, we will go directly to your testimony. and as you know, the entire testimony will be made, will be put into the record and i yield you five minutes of time. thank you. >> thank you very much, and thank you to all the members of the subcommittee. i appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the budget. lett me just make a few preliminary points and then perhaps respond to some of the comments that you made in your opening. first, i think it's important to acknowledge our economy is doing
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phenomenally well you can as to your our economy has generated nearly 5 million new jobs, wage growth is on the rise pickett is increasing about 3.4%. 3.4%. something that is talkedw about last but i think incredibly important is wage growth among the bottom decile of wage earners is up 6.5%. and an appointment measured in different ways, whether it's by race or the other subgroups for african-americans, for hispanic americans come for from women e hit historic lows over the past year. but let me move rather quickly in mypa opening five minutes to respond to some of your comments, madam chair. first you cited that the department of labor was at the bottom or are near the bottom f the list in terms of the number of senate appointees confirmed. those appointees were selected. they were nominated.
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they had been pending in the senate because of what i think is a historic backlog in the senate to confirm individuals, and so with respect i would push back on that and i certainly would encourage you to speak to your senate colleagues who have holds on all of those nominees. who have holds on all of those nominees. in my testimony i presented some information that i would like to highlight. we covered one point one million enforcement dollars over the prior year. the safety administration is doing a great job with inspection and here is where we see it. the number of fatalities in
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mining in the last fiscal year was the lowest ever. in a calendar year it was the second lowest. osha for 2 years in a row had more than they did in 2016. they focus on compliance assistance and enforcement but they are not mutually exclusive. we shouldn't assume that everyone is necessarily a bad actor. we can help those who have questions and we can enforce aggressively against bad actors. here is where you see the results in the osha space. reversing a multiyear trend the office of federal contracting applied monetary recoveries.
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the office of labor management investigated 128 elections they are exceeding 300 million in back wages for 265,000 workers. they do take issue with that perspective. we reference the cold request and we put it out to a congressional mandate where the law that was adopted by this congress directed us to study in the past year beginning a long attitudinal study and that
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request for information was pursued because of a congressional mandate in the law. it will be a nice thing because we directed them to do that. finally, you mentioned expanding the registration for the registered apprenticeship program. let me just say this. the program is expanding rapidly. our economy has generated almost half 1 million registered apprenticeships over the past year. we are expanding that model to other industries that have looked at the apprenticeship program and have said it is too complicated and it is not right for our industry. let me just say this. i look forward to your questions, i presented a number of facts and what i would call a very detailed 17 page testimony and i am happy to
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answer questions, thank you very much. speak a thank you very much i would just say there are facts and all is right with the world and that is not the case. all is right with the world is not what is happening in the department of labor today. we are going to move to questions here, thank you. let me start with the oversight rule if i can. i am concerned about the influence of outside corporate entities. let me start with a simple question. what are you going to do to demonstrate greater independence of corporate lobbyists to make sure your first priority is for consistent missions with the department? >> madam chair, our priority
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with stakeholders includes individual retirees and our goal is to have good, safe jobs. we talked about it in so many contexts. our record enforcements across the board comply to help businesses and with respect to the overtime rule, it does exactly what was discussed which is it needs to be updated. is more expensive to live -- >> if i might interrupt because i have a few questions and we have a time constraint. is interesting to hear what you say but bloomberg recently reported that the former bush administrator who acted as an outside counsel for the chamber of commerce commented on the possibility of automatic salary specials increasing into proposed overtime rule and i
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quote i can tell you here today that if they somehow ignore us, they will be sued again by the business community to challenge their authorities to do that and guess what? we will bring it in texas again and lo and behold your protections are almost exactly what the chamber of commerce told you to do in their comments submitted last year. it is a disturbing coincidence and it lays out the influence of the chamber of commerce which is a factor in your decision-making with regards to the oversight rule. >> let me respond. >> very briefly. >> the rule is actually almost entirely in line with the may hearing. >> it is well, maybe you have
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those conversations earlier on. >> or maybe that was my perspective. >> i think it is highly coincidental. this is a quick. in terms of the funding of apprenticeship, congress provided 145 million where they could use the money only for registered apprenticeship. he testified before the senate last year and you confirmed you would expand apprenticeship programs. this is yes or no, did you use $20 million to reward a cooperative agreement to support both registered and nonregistered apprenticeship? >> registered apprenticeship dollars are not going to establish -- speaker did you use the $20 million for registered and unregistered apprenticeship? >> all the money that was designated is going to support registered apprenticeship
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programs and not to establish -- >> notice he said the employment training administration delivered to the american association of community colleges to create the virtual apprenticeship network to provide resources to community colleges and to create and conduct an industry relevant registry and industry recognized apprenticeship program service to companies across the nation. that is in violation of what we send the money should be used for and what you had exchanged with senator murray that the money was not going up for those efforts. i will go to the budget committee shortly. i want to ask about joint employers if i can. help me understand your proposed rule which i might add
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i think the department failed to calculate any regulatory savings from the joint employer rule and how this works. say you have workers on the loading dock. they are at a distribution center in the place of the staffing agency. the staffing agency hired by the company, let's say the acting corporation sets the timing, work standard, and pay, but do not directly pay the workers for the low record itself. if they confiscate the acting agency in a way that leads them to violate theft rules, thus giving workers a shortage, under your proposed joint employer rule, who is reliable for stolen wages? who is on the hook for the wage theft in this scenario? >> madam chair, the rule is proposed rule and it is not appropriate to address
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hypotheticals but let me say this. the rule adopts the position as a general matter of the courts of appeals decisions that for decades -- ego it is my understanding that it would be only the staffing agency under your proposed rule who would be liable for the back wages and it doesn't make any sense. this rule is about not working people. this sources contractors in your proposed rules moving in the wrong direction. that lets companies off the hook and transfers all reliability and i have gone over my time so
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let's get a congressman harris. >> i want to thank the administration first of all for making headway to be issued doubling the pieces to 30,000 from last year's 15,000. i know they certified more than those son helping we could turn it around quickly. let me talk a little bit about association health plans. 55 percent of americans worry a great deal about healthcare and that number was 56 percent in 2010 which was supposed to solve more problems.
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an identical number of americans still worry about the cost of healthcare. obama care did nothing but i think those of us who believe health plans do offer a lower cost method the way they structured it, they are subject to the same rules that other plans are. that is correct. >> how many millions of people put up plans in this country now? that's what they referred to just a few minutes ago.>> every employee of every country. >> i guess they just gave me junk insurance. how do you justify that figure
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with the fact despite the fact that there are a lot of democrats calling for medicare and eliminating private insurance? i imagine a health plan would be categorized under private insurance, is that right?>> they estimated an additional 400,000 americans would receive coverage under age. >> right, and i imagine most plans are more generous than some of the obama care plans that have $6500 for things like this because more than three out of four americans think they pay too much for a plan and i think anything that can be done to lower costs is a good idea. 45 percent of americans say bankruptcy might actually have greater coverage in the average
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policy and it might actually relieve some of those fears. what do you think the result is going to be of the availability association of health plans?>> let me say we disagree with the district court ruling and the department of justice to consider all available options including a potential appeal. the ultimate decision will be up to the department of justice on that but after the health plan started rolling out after they were put in place we read articles and i'm happy to provide the committee with headlines to the effect of experts hated these plans and both washington post articles talked about how health plans
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are being offered for quality because ultimately what association health plans did and do is say small businesses can man together and play by the same rules of every large corporation. small business can play by the same rules but they simply have the economy of scale and the numbers to get the rate of ivm and so i think it is significant that once the plans were implemented, the concerns that were theoretical and hypothetical were not true. >> union plans are in the same category. the union plans are not health benefits. >> they are a union of small businesses. >> are union plans junk plans
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to? >> they have to preserve their plan so i don't understand it. those 2 articles were entered into the record. >> thank you madam chair and thank you mr. secretary for being here. i know you don't want hypotheticals so i will do my best to do neither but if i can let me take this at a level of being the secretary of labor. the economy is doing phenomenally well and those who are making minimum wage have to work 92 hours a week at minimum wage in order to be able to
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afford an average two-bedroom apartment. that would seem crazy to pretty much anyone you offer that to. we kept them out of poverty in the minimum wage had less the minimum wage had less i don't know if you know this is not what the minimum weight we did it if it kept up with the right of worker productivity but it's about $19 and out if we were at that. i know you said you were opposing raising the minimum wage because it would hurt job creation but it $7.25 continues not increasing, working 92 92 s a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment in madison, wisconsin, can you talk to me about that statement, please? >> first, let me say in 29 states the minimum wage is above the federal minimum wage here we are seeing more states increased it above the federal minimum wage. i think that's an acknowledgment that different states and even different cities in some cases that have higher minimum wages have different wage structures.
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percentage of our working wage earning population or hourly workers, depending which measure you use between half a percent at 2.5% of americans are at minimum wage. i understand your question because i pointed out the bottom decile is seen wage growth much more quickly. it's interesting because the "washington post" -- >> if i can, get a couple subjects at the very specific, are you are going fishing the federal minimum wage? >> not at all. the point i'm arguing is in the "washington post" editorial board of the washington -- >> more interest in your opinion. i can read the "washington post" -- [talking over each other] >> same perspective which is 29 states have i wage level. the question is should just when than states impose their wage structure on the 21 states that have chosen not to increase the
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minimum wage because they have o lower wage costru structure? at this point for those 21 states that it chose not to increase the minimum wage, the very possibly could and would cost jobs and that was the point the editorial board made just this week. >> every time we've increased minimum wage in wisconsin, more people into the workforce. it's had a positive impact. i have been a small business owner for 31 years. the reality is it's important some would have too work -- it's a boy some have to work 92 hours a week, in poverty if it's not working at the click and ask a very question followed up the joint employee. what got me during the last administration when we sat down with hourly divisionn head, we know there's 30 million people are independent contractors and logistics and the kids in other areas. we were told right now it's like
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areillion people who probably independent contractors which you and i both know is probably impossible to be true. to me that's huge problem because that means they're not getting retirement benefits, health benefits. in some cases they do but in mostly cases they don't. joint employer will chronicle after that they got taken down by this administration. i would arguein that will put ot there now is quite weak. i'm really concerned by 70 million people who are independentit contractors who yu and i both know that's probably largely due are least likely to think it is due to misclassification? >> cloud that. there were two guidance documents that went out under the current administration. when having to do with joint employers and none that having to do with independent contractors. the joint employer got in our joint employer will. it addresses those situations where you have two businesses that are employing individuals, and where the business speedy if
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you could just come i think in seconds. there he cares about your thoughts on the 70 million number because to me that's alarming and will have problems down the road. >> i agree entirely that if i could give to the association tn health plan come anar important part of that rule role was to e the ability of individuals who are self employed, independent contractors to have access to because there are a number of individuals who are independent contractors who don't have access under erisa to many of the traditional benefits of employment. part of the purpose of association health plan was to say you're an independentnt contractor speedy if i can come if i could have ten seconds. i really honestly and cherries, do you think there's a lot of misclassification going on when you 70 million people? can we do something to address that? i think that's the problem i'm worried about. >> ms. classification as well as benefits which is whys association retirement plans,
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association health care plans can help individual contractors. because you are an employer speed is if you want to take a quick look at that i would really appreciate it. >> if i'm allowed to go over time. so the note that i had was a particular case that is worth mentioning where a company was employing individuals to clean a building. and essence said that every floor is a separate franchise. and we went after the company because we said that's really not a franchise. that is an employee, and don't tell us that every foot as a separate franchise. and so the point was it does exist where it exists in the guise of let's try to play with the rules. happy to enforce them. >> thank you very much. >> i want to say to ms. butler,
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if you give me a second you can have your time>> different justa couple things to clear the record if i can get in your testimony, sector come you see on page two that wage growth is almost decile francisco at approximately 6.5%. i don't. i don't know where you got the number from but it appears to dig exclude part-time workers and hourly earnings but when you look at real wage growth come between 2017-2018 it's only .5% for workers at the tenth percentile. according to analysis by the economic policy institute. in addition to association health care plans, each of these services areic limited, emergeny service, mental health, maternity, prescriptions and pediatric services. >> thank you so much, madam chair, and thank you, mr. secretary, for being here. i wanted to start by saying a big thank you. last year that a bipartisan effort in this committee to
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perjury department to declassify coverage for living organ donors under the family medical leave act. we haven't worked on this for a while. this impacts people all over the country from all income levels, all races, all backgrounds. .. this is a significant step op forward for helping people, thousands of people off of dialysis or move into really a better quality of life, one that is both cost-saving and
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life saving so thank you so much for your diligence on that >> congresswoman, thank you for bringing it to our attention.this is an example of bringing back opinion letters work because we were able to address that and i want to thank you also for bringing it to our attention because it focused on on issues around fmla and so the american association foof patients visited last week because one of the impediments they had individuals that were prepared to donate kidneys and were being pulled the fmla did not cover the donation operation because that, they were donating an organ. that's just the wrong -- >> it's considered an elective. >> that's the wrong interpretation of fmla and as a result of this, we've looked at a number of other issues around the fmla. one of them was the question of whether an employer, if
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someone needs to take medical leave whether the employer can say yes but not this week , why don't you take it next month or in a few months when we've got less on the demand. and our position and another opinion letter was no, we need to take medical leave you need to take medical leave and the employer cannot dictate the time at which you take that leave so thank you for pointing us in that direction, those were important . >> we appreciateyour movement on it because i think it is how we read the law . it takes some enforcing and getting into it so i appreciate it. a pivot to tech training, southwest washington is obviously, we are growing, i'd like to say where growing but in terms of technology growth it's been a regional priority and there's a lot of technology companies who specialize in producing labors and also to things that i won't say that i'm
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learning because i am more and all of them. they're on a different level than i am but it's important to every area of our economy and security. the less of the country has seen a similar boom and i'm co-leading the chance and to have dol enter into contracts with intermediaries like the washington technology association to expand access to tech apprenticeships and training and i wanted to see if you can elaborate on what dol is doing to expand those opportunities and really what the demand is. >> that's the exact example of why industries recognize apprenticeships are so important because it is important for businesses to come together through third card party intermediaries and associations to offer apprenticeships at a scale. it's expensive to put together the curriculum, expensive offer these on those associations working in
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conjunction with community colleges and other groups really are the right level and one of the look at europe, that's another offer, offered partnerships between educational associations and industry associations and that has worked well across the >> i think you're able to tailor to regions and communities. more specifically than a one-size-fits-all national stance. which is exactly what we need. one more quickly, again switching, i want to ask a quick farm labor question. the office and this is from obviously agreements of ours, the certification process is made 300,000 jobs and issued a temporary worker program. given the funding has languished in a one-time appropriation last , as the programs utility has skyrocketed, how or what in the ol do to help ensure
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these farmers and ranchers at their applications for these temporary workers will actually get processed? >> this is an area where we are working diligently to process these applications as quickly as possible but where this committee can help as well. for at least one, maybe two years now wehave asked for a fee . and the fee would be dedicated to updating our processing systems. i understand that congress does not like to have a fee in perpetuity so even if it were of the for a few years so that we can update computer systems, computer systems, i can't remember off the top of my head but they are at least, they get back to eight or 09. there are nominally, i'm sorry. it made it back to 2009 and these really can and should be updated.
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no private sector business should have a 2009 computer system processing the kind of load that we are today and so off the to be dedicated entirely to updating the system and to integrating it with dhs and the state because right now, will send us and we actually are putting things in the mail sometimes that have to fill it out and mail it to dhs. this is not the way we should be operating. >> command chair.s >> let me now recognize the ranking member of the committee are congressman cole for any opening remarks he wants to make. >> i want to thank the chair and please accept my apology and i apologize to the secretary and everybody on the committee. i had a bill in another committee i've been working on nine years and it's finally getting hurt so i need it to be there. mister secretary, i was going
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to start out by saying i was looking forward to your testimony but i know you've already given it, i had the opportunity to read it last night and i know that your agency like many others is proposing a sizable cut for next year. frankly we all understand why. your living under the budget control act and some of these cuts are effectively mandated by the. hopefully in time we will have an agreement between the administration and the senate in the house and will come up howith some way to do that but i think you clearly are doing the right thing by operating within the monies available again, we hope we can do better for you. and your own budget that would suggest that you need. i was see pleased to see that despite the tight budget you propose level funding for the apprenticeship program. questions for you about that a little bit later today. and how that program is operating. i was pleased to see increases proposed for the veterans employment training services or veterans have so
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much to offer employers and contribute to our economy and i'm also glad to see your proposal related to the course curriculum development or military spouses transitioning with their service member. anything we can do to ease this transition in terms of making certifications and licensor transfer across state lines more easily will reduce stress on families of service men and women. i understand you're also continuing apilot veterans apprenticeship program and i hope that efforts going well . i'm sure you understand i was disappointed to see that the budget proposes to eliminate the indian and native american training program within the training administration. you know the unemployment rate and lack of job opportunities in indian country is high so i don't think it makes sense to eliminate rather small funding streams educated and i hope we come to an agreement, maybe that is an
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issue we can revisit. i'll have questions for you and your proposals to change job core programs and while i support making the program operate more effectively, again operating within your budget, you propose aggressive steps and i want to proceed very cautiously to ensure theprogram can continue to be successful such big changes .i suspect i'm the only person on this panel that lived through the closure of the jobs center in his district and that was a sort of traumatic experience so i would hope my colleagues and their constituents can be spared that. madame chair, thank you very much your indulgence and i yelled back.>> the gentleman would ask a question of the structure. >> you whatever you want, >> will give him a chance to do that and we will move forward. >> i asked my questions in turn.. >> time, i appreciate that. i'll try to keep them short. i wanted to talk to you about an area that we've made him i . think very impressivechanges
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in . i'm pleased to see a proposed rule on joint employment this week. joint employment policy of the previous administration would have made businesses liable for the actions of their business partners even when they did not have direct control over their operations or employment actions. issues cause great uncertainty, created costs for law-abiding small businesses and industries and particularly i think it's counterproductive and quite often these small business owners areentrepreneurs, their leaders and their community . this is a pathway through the franchising system in particular has provided opportunities across the board for people that would not otherwise have them though it caused me a great deal of pleasure to see your department moving in this area. you tell us how your rulemaking will simplify hopefully the task for job creators and their workers? >> congressman, thank you and
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i can certainly describe it in general terms. we rescinded the prior guidance but when i rescinded it i said it's very important that any changes proceed through rulemaking so what the rule does it looks at the various court decisions on this and they vary by circuit . and in essence we are adopting the laurel hourly perspective as a general matter and this perspective has been a perspective of courts for a long time. and so this will provide stability. it will provide clarity. it's important for employers to know they are liable and when they are not liable and what actions are appropriate for them to take and what would cross the line and make them liable for another employers employee so that clarity andcertainty is something that is incredibly important . >> thank you very much and
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i'll be looking forward to seeing how this works going forward but again, i think you are to be commended for your department's actions. i appreciate your comments andyour testimony about the work your agency and the office of disability employment policy is doing to help americans with disabilities exceed in the workplace . despite stride that have been made, barriers to entry for people with disabilities remain high. the lower employment rates for people with disability is due in part to discrimination and in part due to the way our entitlement programs create disincentives to work. many young people with disabilities want to work but the reality of losing essential federal benefits and medical coverage should they lose their job creates an insurmountable barrier for many. as dol collaborated with the social security administration and medicaid services to determine ways we can encourage work by allowing people to retain a meaningful level of asset and health insurance coverage?
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i realize the three large bureaucracies talking to one another and coordinating waivers is no small task but we know it to our citizens to consider cross agency collaboration and not simply work in agency silos. would you be willing to do that kind of outreach? >> we would be willing, this is an important area in light of all the technological advances we have seen . we are today better positioned than ever before to fully integrate into disabilities in the workplace that's great and let me just k and with i want to ask you again, we are often about the arcane hurdles that exist in occupational licensing requirements, particularly if someone's license in one state and may not be able to use in another without being relicensed, state requirements of course differ. what's the department of labor doing to address occupational licensing
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requirements that create barriers in the workforce, particularly those that affect military families? >> this is such an important issue. it used to be one in 20 individuals needed a license to work, now more than one in four, one in three individuals need a license to work. i was in one state where the license to install fire alarms cost more than the license to join the bar. and not only do you ask them why but why are we putting such high fees on individuals that may not be able to afford them? easily i had the opportunity to governors and i asked them , it's incredibly difficult to change this because it's such a state issue but let's start on something where i hope everyone can agree and that's military spouses.
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we asked military servicemembers to move from state to state and they're moving on orders.not by choice but they're moving on orders and their spouses are given just a wrong decision to make, a decision they shouldn't have to. do we maintain the integrity of the family unit or keep a career? and if you talk to military spouses, spouse after spouse will tell you that they cannot maintain a career because if you're in astate for two years, by the time you meet the requirements and get your license, your moving to another state . and i'll provide one example, a woman in california moved to florida and was told that even though advice was given to california clients using a california license over the internet, she could not do that because she was not licensed for it . that's just one example under thousands. >> thank you very much, my time is more than expired. >> congresswoman clark. >> thank you madam chair,
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thank you for joining us secretary acosta. the department of labor is a member of the interagency task force to combat trafficking in persons, is that correct? tr>> yes. >> the international labor affairs bureau within the department of labor is responsible for combating exploitive child labor, forced labor and human trafficking, is that correct? >> that is correct. >> so it's fair to say department of labor plays an active role in combating human trafficking. and the problem is a large one. >> the problem is a large one, the department of labor recently issued a report and it actually detailed 1700 rtrecommendations that could be looked at around the world to address this. >> that is excellent and i know that there are hundreds
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of thousands of adults and children who are victims of sex and labor trafficking in the i'm glad you are looking at it, i'm glad youdetailed a comprehensive strategy but you proposed a budget of almost 80 percent , 79 percent to i lab where this work is done, bringing its budget from 68 million to just 18.5 million. i'm sure you've come prepared to justify this cut to us, but it does not go unnoticed. this isn't the first time that you've ignored human trafficking. when you were the us attorney of the southern district of florida, your office investigated jeffrey epstein and found, your office found there had been a sexual abuse. scheme that involved at least 36 underage girls ranging from age 14 to 17. this is horrifying and sick stuff. mister epstein raped and assaulted these girls.
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he recruited them out of shopping malls, he had employees who helped with this and then he invited his friends to do the same. and there is evidence that he transported these girls among his mansions throughout the united states and abroad. epstein and his friends destroyed these girls lives. senator ben staff called mister epstein a monster. would you say that's a fair characterization? >> he engaged in violent crimes, yes. >> you're a lot professor. besides many other jobs you've had and i'm sure you know there's no such thing as child prostitution under federal law , only child sex trafficking and each of fence under 18 us 1591 carries a sentence ranging from 10 years to life in prison so logically mister epstein was the investigation of the federal us attorney's office should have been looking at a
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potential sentence of 360 years at a minimum but that's not what happened because there was a power dynamic here, wasn't there? we had teenage girls with no power who were raped in sexual assault victims and we had mister epstein and his friends, powerful, wealthy and connected people. and in a ruling on february 21 of 2019, judge mar found you illegally entered a nonprosecution agreement that allowed mister epstein to serve just 13 months in county jail where he received 12 hours a day on work release, six days out of the week. the judge found you broke the law, secretary acosta when you chose not to tell the victims about this deal. and that you gave them the impression that this investigation was ongoing.
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and do you disagree with any of the facts that were found in the opinion that judge mar issued? >> congresswoman, first let me say that the southern district of florida has prosecuted sex trafficking aggressively in the past and it is an incredibly important issue and it's something that needs to be addressed. >> do you disagree, i get to ask the questions, do you disagree with any of the facts as presented in the opinion of judge morrow? >> the department of justice i think rightly so for the past 12 years has defended -- >> that is a yes, sir no question, ask unanimous consent to submit the opinion . the hideous truth has come
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out, you chose wealthy and well-connected people, child rapists over the victim in this case. if you as us attorney, as a prosecutor where your job is to pursue justice could not fight for these girls, how as secretary of labor can you tell this panel and the american people that you can responsibly oversee this budget, the department of labor including human trafficking? is there no answer? >> is that a question? >> that wasa question. >> the department of justice for the past 12 years has defended the actions of the office in this case . the facts in this case were presented to a grand jury that initially recommended, not initially but actually recommended a charge that
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would have carried no jail time at all and at the end of the day -- >> do you regret making this -- >> if i can finish, at the end of the day mister epstein went to jail. epstein was incarcerated, he registered as a sex offender. the world was put on notice that he was a sex offender and the victims received restitution. >> 13 months in county jail, 12 hours a day work release. you consider that justice? ja>> congresswoman. >> thank you madam chair. mister secretary, thank you for being here and i wonder if i could talk with you a little bit about the rule of the h2 b visa and the importance of that in my home state ofmichigan . and first of all i want to
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say your comments earlier about the economy i think are spot on. i see that happening in michigan where the economy is growing and people are under and percent unemployment there's help wanted signs everywhere. one of the challenges we have and you may be familiar with this area is in northern michigan it's a great area for tourism. especially in the summertime, you've got places like mackinac island which is a unique place and i've heard over the last few years from business owners and hotels, restaurants, bars and on mackinac island, about the importance of the h2 b visas and to give you some statistics, in the 2010 census the island was noted to have ayear-round population of 492 people . pretty small population. during the summertime, that population swells as businesses hire short-term
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employees, as many as 15,000 visitors per day so it's very intensive summertime tourism. and these businesses provide excellent service but there a struggle trying to find local employees but they are available and seasonally, they are able to find employees but it's through the h2 b visa. in the past few years there have been businesses that didn't even open or had to severely restrict their operation. i want to thank you and secretary nielsen for this additional 30,000 that was announced, i think that goes a long way. i guess my question is as you look at the forecast the needs going forward, that still isn't enough to meet the needs throughout the united states . is there a process short of evaluating it months from now where places like this that
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are starting to be in full swing now and if we don't have the employees, they just can't make it and is there a way that through kind of a midcourse evaluation as to whether wehave enough now or whether we need to go higher ? >> tigers men, the reality is because initially we have to write a rule to further increase the cap and because after that rule there would have to be a recruitment period, simply by operation of law. that is highly unrealistic. i think the solution is here and it's a solution that solution we've encouraged congress to look at is to look at this visa system. for the last 2 years rather than come to a decision as to what the right number is, congress has simply chosen not to act. and it's something that needs to be looked at and i think it's not just the but it is,
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what is truly a seasonal visa ? what is a seasonal job, it's man 11 month job, a seasonal job? we studied mackinac island where the jobs are not for 11 months but they are highly seasonal and should those be treated differently cause they are focused for a short period of time and have high skill? this is something we've asked congress to look at that congress needs to look at because every year, businesses can't plan. they don't know how many visas are going to be available and we owed them greater certainty. >> do you feel in your role working with secretary nielsen you have additional flexibility on this? i agreethat would be the ideal . >> we do not have the flexibility to make those distinctions under the current law . >> can you raise the under existing law?cu
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>> you chose 30,000 that the structure and again, i'm grateful for that but let's say the need was instead of 30,000 it should have been 40,000. do we have a way of knowing? >> congressman, but logistical reality of this and it happened two years ago when because the budget was delayed and thank you for not delaying the budget last year for us. but when the budget was delayed , i believe about two years ago the cap was not increased until june and as a result of the pieces were not available until august by which point there's really not much need for them. so as a logistical matter, by the time that that question was present itself, the need for the pieces would have come due. >> i appreciate the 30,000 very much. >> congresswoman frankel. >> thank you mister secretary for being here, just to make
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a comment on the question to you, i come from palm beach county where that epstein matter arose and aside from the justice issue i can tell you that many people in my community are upset that it seems like a sexual arpredator was allowed on the loose. i'm not going to pursue more questions today but i think a lot of us have a lot more questions that we want to get to the bottom of this. i do, i do have a request for you to help in the area of sexual trafficking. and you probably know this, there was a study that said 71 percent of labor trafficking victims, from outside the united states have entered the country on temporary work visas. i've heard horrendous stories, there was just one in palm beach county where a woman from china was being brought in, they thought they
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were coming into legitimate jobs and ended up in massage parlors and they were exploited, put in prostitution. people saidwhy would they do it? they don't know the language, their families are threatened . their exploiters they were going to kill your family. they grabbed their papers and this is, this unfortunately is verycommon . there is, there will be a bipartisan bill thank goodness it's bipartisan called the visa transparency trafficking act which would create ita standardized reporting system across non-immigrant visas that permit employment and make the informationavailable to the public . there's a provision in it that's going to require some of the information that the department of labor collects because we are trying to get i think you even mentioned we
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have the homeland security and the department of labor, seems like 's are not connecting but i would just, i'm asking you if you would, i'm bringing this to your attention if you could assign someone to help us get this done. >> congresswoman, i can assign someone and let me just say at a variety of fronts, i was one of the individuals that stood up, one of the first human trafficking task forces back when i was at maine justice. this is incredibly important. the pieces, the various agencies do not communicate with one another as well as they could. in part it's because their computer systems do not talk to one another, they're actually communicating my paper so whatever i can do on this front i will assign a senior-level individual to work with your office . >> thank you for that.t. i also want to ask you i think in your testimony there
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was a mention of a paid parental leave plan. which i think a lot of us here think is very important, in fact i reference you to take a look at representative dolores family act which really is, would be a very good way to go. the plan that you put forward , i'm not sure because it's just a few mentions of it and then you put $750 million in mandatory funding for the paid parental leave program. you tell me how that would be used and how do you see your plan operating? >> congresswoman, let me say first if one looks at our labor force participation rate, it is falling behind
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other nations and one of the important reasons that we need paid parental leave is so individuals can keep those attachments to the workforce. studies show that when individuals leave the workforce, they are less likely to return and let me also say that we want to support families and especially during that early time right after a baby is born, providing the support by providing paid leave is important so the proposal looks to the ui trust fund and as a first instance, more states would be agreed to go in different directions that as a first instance would look at the ui trust funds for funding for that paid parental leave. >> i don't have that much time but i want to just make a few respectful suggestions to you. number one, you need to look at times when people leave the workplace for medical
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reasons, not just for birth because there's probably 100 million workers that don't have access to any kind of leave here and more don't leave for medical reasons than just for childbirth so i urge you to look at that. dbthe other thing that concerns me is that the unemployment insurance system is very underfunded and you're proposing a patchwork solution and it sounds to me like you understand why we need to do this. i really urge you to take a look at representative delaura's bill the family act because i think that's a much better way to go and with that, i've run out of time . >> if i could have 10 seconds, just to say that the funding is, congress will
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need to act so the funding is something that will have to be negotiated with this committee among others . >> congresswoman. >> thank you ma'am chair, thank you for being here today. in your written testimony you make it clear how proud you are of your effort to cut red tape at the department of labor. i agree with reworking rules to make sure we're not having any regulations that are unnecessary and that's an important part of the process but there's nothing that is from the department of labor's perspective that is more important than making sure that workers, american workers come first. so what i find concerning in your budget is you effectively cut the budget for occupational safety and administration. this comes a time when workplace investigations are at a 10 year high and the
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number of health andsafety investigators at the department of labor is at an all-time low . yet you provide a 19 percent increase to the office of labor management standards. this is the office that is charged with auditing and investigating labor unions . this indicates to me that going after labor unions is more important than keeping workers safe. your philosophy of cutting the red tape seems to applyto everyone except for labor unions . i have real concerns about this. your request for funding to investigate, you request more funding to investigate labor unions and you cut funding for worker safety. further, you flatline funding for workforce development programs . those should be a priority, keeping workers safe to be a priority so outside of
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deregulation which again i think we've acknowledged and you u acknowledge in your testimony is important, i'm not clearabout your priorities , specifically where does workplace safety into all this? of>> congresswoman, first let me try to take these in order. with respect to osha, we're asking for an increase of, correct me if i'm wrong but 15 million with respect to enforcement in osha. the total decrease, there is because of a reduction in categorical grants called on harwood grants that we have in the past suggested is a place where money can be saved and where i understand that this committee i believe for two years has put the money back in but our enforcement budget is actually increasing and i would point out that according to my figures in front of me, the enforcement budget for osha is increasing twice the enforcement budget
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for all mass which is the organization that focuses on unions, even though that organizations budget was cut over the last 10 years, quite substantially. and so i would take issue with the budget not reflecting an enforcement priority because in fact it does in every enforcement agency shows some level of increase with respect to enforcement. the inspectors are at a low level, when i arrived at the department, we didn't have inspectors, they were called cushions and we did not have enough of those inspectors and so there was a personnel freeze and the one area where i said i'm lifting the personnel is hiring freeze was in osha so we could hire more osha inspectors and in fact we hired 76 inspectors since then. they are in the process of
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being trained, being educated because osha is such a complex statute, it takes months .in some cases a year or more before they can go out into the field individually. and so the fact that our inspections are up and were about 32,000 for two years in a row despite a decrease in inspectors, i think is a testament to folks working incredibly hard and once these inspectors go out in the field independently, i fully expectand i told osha i expect the inspections to be up even more . >> can you address at all where workforce development is in your priorities? >> if there's one thing that should be clear it's that this administration is g incredibly proud of the jobs being generated by this economy and development and workforce development is incredibly high priority.
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both in government-funded programs as well as in privately funded programs so for example in the apprenticeship area, something that's worth mentioning and it's been the subject of testimony by the building trades unions before congress in the past is they spent $1 billion of private-sector money as part of the registered apprenticeship program and so whether it's through apprenticeships that were advocating heavily, funded in part by hundred 60 million that this committee provides or whether it's through private sector money such as what the building trades negotiate with management through their contracts, whether it's through support of community college and vocational programs such as the reauthorization that we saw recently, that really highlighted the importance of vo-tech workforce, education is critical because we have right now 1 million more open
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jobs that individuals looking for jobs and so i'm happy to talk about this in more detail privately if you would like but it is at the top. >> i'm out of time, i feel the back. >> i will compensate the time but osha, the national employment labor project, a number of osha sections is about 3000 over two years and enforcement unions have found 1000 per year. [inaudible] >> thank youmadam chair . let me just say that in your testimony you highlighted the fact that unemployment was down among disadvantaged y groups and i would venture to
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say that one of the reasons that is true is because of the programs that you now have in place which you are now proposing to eliminate. for example, you are proposing to limit programs like the migrant and seasonal farmworkers job training and indian and native american job training that supports some of the most vulnerable and needy guestworkers who continue to be exploited . so i would caution you about eliminating these programs that are helping you to come to this committee and talk about the fact that you are able to keep unemployment low among these groups. my question is about children , another group of children that are vulnerable. in the workforce. the gao released a report in november 2018 on the working conditions of children in the united states and gao's
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findings regarding the number 01 of fatalities due to a lack of enforcement puts our country at shame. and i along with chairwoman delauro contacted the wage and hour division in your department and requested a comprehensive study to address the gaps in enforcement that the gao had found. w hc responded saying they intended to address the gao's recommendation. my question is have you in fact addressed those recommendations? >> congresswoman, the gao statement came out little over a month ago. i'm familiar with it. i have asked -- >> it was 2018 is my understanding. just go ahead . >> i have asked the division, may i ask when in 2018?
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november, so yes. my apologies, i may have read it over the break or the holiday season but i have asked the wage division to take a look at that. the wage and hour division this past year had very strong enforcement, 304,000. the highest amount ever and so i have asked them to go through the report to see where we can focus our enforcement, where we can refocus our enforcement, what is a statutory gap if any? so i'm happy to once that is done sitdown with your office and provide their recommendations and if legislation we can talk about that . >> and in the recurrence that you are going to be looking into this. >> i have asked them to do that, that is correct. >> i want to point out that one of your poor responsibilities as others have said is the enforcement
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of labor laws and particularly children. and in the agriculture industry, that is where you have the highest fatalities. which the gao found that of the 400 and i believe 52 fatalities of children that have worked in the agriculture industry. and the reason for that is as children working in agriculture are not equally protected under our child labor laws so i am introducing a bill called the care act to see what we can do to better protect those children and i would like to work with you on that . there's a lot of exemptions, i understand there's an issue of family farms and so on but we need to do something to protect these children better than they are at this point's
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i'm happy to work with you on that. >> i'm sorry, i'm going to go to another in the 2018 annual child labor report that was released by your department, you acknowledged that meeting the ambitious goal of ending child labor, forced labor and all forms of modern slavery that requires and i quote, accelerate very real progress that has been made over the past quarter-century and as we've mentioned by my colleague congresswoman clark, your budget proposes cutting the bureau of international labor laws by 79 percent. it doesn't make sense to me how you can accelerate efforts to address a child labor when you are proposing a 79 percent cut to the very agency that is responsible
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for that. these cuts would also hinder the bill's ability to monitor and enforce the labor fo provision outlined in the new and existing free trade io agreements . how do you plan to ensure that american workers are protected from international competitors that exploit workers with the severe reduced budget? >> that is at least a three part question, do i have time to answer? okay. >> but you can send a record. do what you can and leave the rest for the record. >> congresswoman watson: >> thank you chairman, good afternoon. i think we both agree that the opioid epidemic has had a severe impact on our families and a lot of grandparents have ended up becoming the breadwinners and their families because their of their children who have children have become unable to take care of themselves. so i'm disturbed that your
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proposal to eliminate the program, the senior community service employment program, $400 million, i'm concerned that you would eliminate that program at a time where i think us grandparents are touring, reentering into the workforceagain , not because we want to but because we have to. >> congresswoman, thank you for the question. the budget makes difficult calls with respect to workforce development issues so for example congressman paul cited the program for native americans and what we did there was we said we would set aside a certain amount under the law to announce that need in particular and if there are particular needs i think that within thebudget , focusing the dollars on those needs is
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appropriate. >> you're talking about the workforce investment act. >> that is correct. >> that are more geared to younger folks. >> that don't have to be, and part of -- >> can i ask you this? what is your budget proposed for workforce investment act? are you proposing an increase or a decrease? >> the workforce investment act. >> that would tell me whether or not i should have confidence that the senior program as the light of day. i don't want you to take up my time finding this. >> the funds are formula funds that are determined outside of the budget. >> so is this a level funding that is proposing? you're going to try to take
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g care of this particular aspect of the workforce needs with level funding. i think that needs to be looked at and i hope our colleagues will look at that. i want to go to another area. as head of the department of labor do you think american employers should take advantage of undocumented workers to bek held accountable . that is a yes, sir no. thank you. does your wage and hours division to those investigations of individuals that have been coerced in their working, have not been paid a decent wage, don't get time, etc.? have you launched any investigations into the trunk golf clubs that have been documented to have had undocumented workers working in those facilities, underpaid, no benefits, no overtime, no sick leave, no nothing and in some instances have been treated very
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poorly? >> the career staff determines what is investigated. i can inquire and provide an answer for the record. >> i specifically want to know how many investigations have been launched and if you are able to tell me that none have thus been launched, will you commit to doing those investigations? >> congresswoman, the career staff and i think it's important the career staff determines when it is appropriate to launch these types of investigations. i have been careful as secretary to not pick and choose what organization should or should not be investigated. i don't thinkthat is the role of the political leadership . ithink that is the role of the career staff, i would defer to their decisions . >> and i would assume these career staffers we have engaged in rigorous investigations of what has been very flagrant and numerous and consistent violations of workers rights,
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thank you, i feel the back. >> congresswoman. >> thank you very much, i apologize. i apologize if this question is redundant but i wanted to ask you about the unemployment rate as it relates to the african-american and latino communities. the employment rate is double ti that of whites at 6.6 percent which is the highest among all racial groups nationwide. latino unemployment rate is higher around five percent compared to four percent and 3.7 percent for whites. it's not just an employment, a medium net worth of white households is 10 times higher than that of black households and for every 100 black children who grew up in the bottom fifth of the income distribution , less than three will make it to the top
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fifth as adults. so investments in workforce training, closing the wage gap and increasing the minimum wage are all things the department of labor could do to help close the gaps but if this budget doesn't reflect that you're doing that at all. your budget /his job four by 41 percent, dislocated worker national reserves by 39 percent and i was shocked to see the reintegration of ex-offenders at 16 percent. youth bill is down six percent. office of disability employment down 29 percent, women's bureau 74 percent down and labor affairs department 79percent . i want to ask you with the cuts that you're presenting, how are we going to achieve parity and how are we ever going to reduce the unemployment rate and the wage gap in communities of
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color and can you commit to this would help tremendously. ndalso, why would you make these cuts when you know these programs are what lead people out of poverty into the middle class, especially people of color. >> congresswoman, thank you for the question because workforce development i think is one area where the return on investment is incredibly helping individuals develop the skills especially when they're young, that will last them a lifetime is incredibly important. i've talked in the past about ending tell two certificate programs about the importance of work study and i would add to that the importance of programs, we all have programs within our employee training administration that
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provides a lot of funding for the states august on the workforce. we're operating within budget constraints and where operating within budget caps and so i understand that this committee disagrees and last year put in essence looked at the budget and provided the money right back in but you have the authority to exceed those caps, not the department and the administration is being fiscally disciplined. let me say i'm happy to have discussions about any one of these. i was at areentry program later this week, reentry is incredibly powerful . providing an individual who is leaving prison the opportunity to work is transformative for the individual. it's the way to keep the community safer and from a fiscal perspective, employing an individual who is reentering makes so much sense because they become a
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member of our economic base. they contribute and that makes much more sense than the danger of them going back into prison. there's so many areas where we can help individuals find jobs so i'm happy to have a discussion as to whether we should move some of these funds around but we are operating within the budget. >> but based on what you just said i would have thought you would put a plus a 15 a percent, you have decreased the reintegration of ex-offenders by 16 percent but also, i think a roadmap of your priorities, when we talk about communities of color, peopleof color, where not a priority .io based on the cuts that you have indicated that you would recommend, that kind of shows me where you're going with this and that's not right and you know that and if you care about reentering ex-offenders and their reintegration,
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priorities should be to make sure that we not only fully fund but increased those funding levels area so you know, it's a reflection i think of your priorities and it is a shame and disgrace. >> i have to disagree with rethat characterization. reentry is incredibly important and it's something i am very. >> then you should recommend the cuts mister secretary. >> there are budget realities, congresswoman. >> mister secretary i'd like to follow up on two or three areas. this is a follow-up, my colleagues arin the field on child labor protections.
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the department proposed revising the repeal protections for 16 and 17-year-old workers and healthcare projections based on the silence of foreign recommendations of the government's health and safety experts. with no additional scientific review, no public hearing the agency decided to repeal this child labor protection. let me ask you a couple of questions about this scant evidence that you cite . in a 2012 survey monkey pole, to support your claim that current child labor protections are a burdensome. it these are yes, sir no questions, are you aware that your evidence, survey monkey pole had just 20 respondents who answered the main question. and that almost half of the 20 respondents said they were unaware of what the current policy was. were you aware of that? yes, sir no? >> madam chair, that was not cited as evidence. if one were to look at the proposed rule, that was i did in a footnote as an example
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of the fact that this was an issue across the country and was not cited as evidence. >> 20 respondents, i know something about polling. i live with a pollster. 20 is not a sample size. so maybe you were not aware of the number of people that were pulled. are you aware of massachusetts department of health that conducted the poll on any burdens in the placement of young teens and in healthcare occupations werefrom misperceptions about the agency's current policy , yes, sir no? >> that was not presented as evidence madam chair. >> it appears secretary that there is no empirical evidence that the existing policy for employment and therefore no compelling justification for your regulatory action. i'm going to ask you and again if yes, sir no, will you withdraw this proposal?
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>> we are in the process of proposing, we will consider the comments received. let me ask you a quick question, some of you said earlier about opinion letters, our workers entitled to opinion letters? yes, sir no? >> no stakeholder is entitled to an opinion letter whether worker or business but we have answered requests from workers on opinion letters. >> can you provide us with a number of opinion letters that have been issued for workers versus employers?>> we can provide that. >> that's fine, thank you. let me move to another area quickly. you announced in october your plan to expand the payroll audit independent determination, i believe this is a program that offers
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violating employers amnesty. a pat on the back, no deterrent for violating the law. agency trumpets $304 million that it recovered for workers in 2018, serious questions remain on whether the paid program is effective and worth the investment. how much of the 304 million recovered since 2018 is through the paid program? >> i can provide that information. >> you pledged when you announced the program in march 2018 that they would do an evaluation after six months beforeexpanding it. why are you extending the program without any knowledge ? >> ..
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i'm sorry. that they would look and investigate those business. let me also say with respect -- because you pointed out -- >> you are sending the program without any knowledge of its effectiveness. you have concluded on what basis that scarce resources are better spent on a program the potential he has no impact, that on a robust enforcement program. and that's not really what you have alleged in terms of the evaluation onm this program buti will end this where i started. we've seen at the labor department, again on the role that was proposed, other regulations by failing to do the analysis that the congress required or in the case that even you pledged to do, and yet for the employers, for the business community we just say go for it.
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it's okay, and to the best you can. not on our watch, mr. secretary. dr. harris. >> thank you very much. let me just follow up about my colleague from michigan, i want to thank you for the additional pieces and it just want to confirm i think we've had conversations that indicate if we're going to go to a proportionality system where if you didn'tto have enough, if congress to set the court high enough and everybody wouldpr get some. you would have a lottery system. my understanding is you would need a slightt change in statute to give the authority to do that, is that right? that you cannot do it internally without a change in statute. >> i would have to confirm with respect to, if yourr question is could we, someone applied for let'sd say 100, if we determind were only 2050, i would have to confirm whether or not that is something that required the
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statute. it would appreciate you get back to me because that's one of the things my employers at said the lottery, they love it when they win. they hate it when they lose. so maybe everybody could win just a little. the president talks about the african-americanan unemployment rate, hispanic unemployment rate being historically low. is that true when the president says that? >> it was a historically low amount, t yes. >> so he's telling the truth? >> the economy actually has improved --th >> the economy has improved for everyone. the african-american unemployment rate hit a record low. the hispanic unemployment rate hit a a record low. >> that's what i thought. with regards toca the budget levels that you have, and i'd love to compare it to a congressional budget issue, but i don't see one yet. almost 100 days into this congress and haven't seen a budget proposal that would perhaps indicate congresses
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priorities. so it's easy to pick a guess on the priorities that you have set, which are operating within the original 2011 caps, right? because it is not updated cap business -- next fiscal year. >> to my knowledge that is correct. >> actually, dollop of actual as to what are the two top issues they worried about and the two top issues for health care and talk you about about the cost of that. thetw second one was an equal numberth of americans, 80% sayig they worry a great deal or from out about it is federal spending and the budget deficit. so i'm going to applaud the administration for staying within the caps that are actually congressional imposed. you aremi living within the law. that's an unusual thing in this town but you're living within the law and i appreciate that. again i anxiously await the results of the budget that comes out of ourpr budget committee
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here. finally, the overtime rules. the overtime rule is elected mentation proposed a rule which in a texas court basically didn't allow to go into effect. >> that is correct. >> we are operating under the old overtime rule provision. the original one, so every day we go by without an update is actually there are a lot of workers comp potentially 1 million workers,, who actually are not getting, who might come under an increase, cap amount. so actually your proposal is better than the current because -- how many million workers would, under your -- >> well over a million additional workers. >> those million workers, additional workers i take it are in the lower quintiles of income? >> that is correct. >> by the in thet lowest?
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iv the two close quintiles you would imagine most of them? >> i hesitate to provide that data but i but i can provided e committee. in the lower. >> years the circumstance with the last immunization did nothing about it, right? and your shutter department actually is providing relief to over a million people. how much money with those people stand again? what do those million get from this action from your shutter department? and i will certainly provide that information. >> could be hundreds of millions, , could net? >> that's correct. >> that goes to the two lower quintiles of income. sounds like the department of labor in this case might be helping the people who it was a step show. i yield back. >> hello again. thank you for being here.
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i listen to testimony. i sincerely believe you on doing something about trafficking. i'm going to take you up on that. i want to give an opportunity because i know you've been under the spotlight and i don't want to come at you. i want to give you an opportunity if you want to just explain some things. i think sex trafficking is what other scourges of community right now -- is one of the scourges of committee right now. i think my colleagues made up some of the basic facts but it sounded like jeffrey epstein, according to the miami herald article, and i know there were some comments made by the police the city anywhere from 50-80 young women that they knew about were victims of jeffrey epstein picked asgo a sound about right? >> i can, as to the specific number but he had multiple vixen, yes. >> so, and into getting a deal
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where i i guess a couple prostitution felony charges, state charges. the federal charges -- with ever any federal charges? the article said he was facing 53 federal indictments. >> if i could just provide a brief overview, congresswoman. this matter, this was a state matter and it was presented by the then state attorney to a grand jury in palm beach county. the grand jury reviewed the evidence, looked at what was available. and the grand jury recommended a single charge that, would've required no jail time. >> if i i may, notde to be rudo interrupt but before it went to the state it was my understanding that it was actually, he was facing 53 -- >> that is incorrect. >> was he facing any federal charges? >> that is incorrect.
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this started as as a state mat. >> what happened? there wasco an article that sai, you can tell me, maybe this didn't happen but there was an article that said that his attorneys negotiated a deal with you at the marriott hotel -- >> ifsa i could walk you through the facts, and this is supported by the public record. so this was a state matter. it was investigated and local police and taken to the state attorneys office. the state attorney took this matter to a grand jury, present all the evidence -- >> how did you get involved? that.eading up to the grand jury. and the grand jury considered it and recommended one charge that required no jail time, no registration at all and no restitution to any of the victims. he would have an intestines gon
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away. that's when thehe local police - you would have effectively gotten away. those that involve, you are an attorney, those that have been involved in the legal system know that once some of its arraigned, he had been arraigned on that wednesday charge, once some of his arraigned it is exceedingly rare, it is rare for a federal prosecution to also take place. but our attorneys looked at them and they said, epstein should not be able to walk away with no jail time, no registration and no restitution. and so they informed his attorneys that if something else wasn't done, that a federal, a second federal prosecution could take place because, in this is something that's important for public to understand, it can be prostitute by the state and if that is sufficient also be
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prosecuted by the federal government. >> i have limited time. i'm not trying to be rude with you but there was a report in the "miami herald" that you had a meeting with esteems attorney at the>> marriott hotel on palm beach where he convinced you not to either drop the charges or not look into the charges and then there is some mention that perhaps mr. epstein dig information that other people -- is any of that correct? >> there's a lot of information in the public record that is not correct. i saw that report in the "herald" and it referenced october 2007 i believe and i looked at the date on which the agreement was signed where federal authorities said they would defer to the state attorney if he actually went to jail, if you actually registered as a sex offender and paid restitution.
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and the date for that meeting postdated the agreement. >> did that meeting take place? >> this was 12 years ago. i don't member but i do know because i looked it up on what's going on here, that the agreement was actually signed in september, and meeting took place in october after the agreement was signed. so the answer is that that could not have been part of that agreement. >> i'm going to yield back. my community is still very upset about this and hope there will be another opportunity to really flesh this out and give you an opportunity to answer all these allegations. because i think we can all agree that a very vile, disgusting man who molested underage girls can lots and lots of them, merely got off the hook. with that, again i'm going to take you up t on helping me on this bipartisan trafficking
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bill. i yield back. >> i had not intended as using a fema just discussed but if you compelled just to come if needed to add something to extend the time to you if you want to put something on the record or respond anyway. i want to give you the opportunity to respond to anything you'd like, mr. secretary. >> i appreciate that. let me just say i understand the frustration. i think it's important to understand, he was going to get off entirely without any, other than something that would've required no jail time, no registration and no restitution. he was going to get off. and it was the work of our office that resulted in going to jail. it was work of our office that resulted in his having to register, and put the world on
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notice that he's a sex offender, put all theseth other victims potential in the future on notice that he's a sex offender. and there's a lot of reference made to how he was imprisoned by palm beach county after the fact. that was a state plea and that was determined under florida law. that was not -- and i've been on record as condemning the terms of his incarceration. because the work release can understand why folks are upset. that was florida law. that was not a federal decision. i think it's important to separate what is florida and what is federal. >> thank you very much your interest for the record i've added opportunity to work with you for for a couple of years i find you a person of great integrity, great ability and great skill. i think the president made a wise choice we needan to you for this position. i think you have more than made
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him proud, more thann done your job, and i just thought that ought to be in the record as well. thank you for your service. now, i do have some of the question in a limited time i have. throughout your testimony and the budget documents you have spoken about the ways you support american workers through the h-1b visas fees used for training and for several programs. how will you enforce the labor laws and trade agreements so that the american workers are on a level playing field and competing for jobs on the stage?tional >> the reference is made earlier the same issue and that is an issue a very high priority, particularly as a lawyer looking at the usmca and the adoption of that something that is critical. i've spoken with ambassador lighthizer about that and certainly if after this budget crosses, proceed if additional resources are needed, that
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something that could be part of the enabling legislation. because we want to ensure that the provisions of usmca are fully complied with, that are fully enforced. put american workers on a level playing field. >> that's a good thing to be trying to do. one last question, and as we all know, you live within the budget that congress -- the budget control act. but in concern on the job corps front. those are drastic cuts. if yount had to do something, wt would be the criterion you would go through and use to make a decision of the -- clery you would have to close to quite a few centers around the country. >> and so that come if were to close and then we would go through and look at the metrics and we tried to do this in a reasonably mutual way to see
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which job courses were perform less than others. let me also say one of the things we've been doing with job corps, because some are not performing particularly to gooe of issues come is to try to think a little bit outside the box.x. i preach your colleagues both republican and democratic side. there's a caucus has been organized around this. because we've been worked workh some companies that have ideas as to how to make these more effective. and so in one state the government is interested in partnering the job corps with the community college. in another state governor is interested in partnering the job national guard program. i was just going to congresswoman louise . all of it earlier talking to governor that said whitney be great to set up a job corps to invoke special focus onse individual that are reentering society lacks so as they reenter society have the ability to get the skills they need to get jobs.
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>> i am essentially out of time but iso would really encourage u to matter what the budget my knees to continue along those lines. there's no question there are reforms to be made. there's a lot of good things you've you just listed off several of them that i think this committee would have on a by person basis strong interest in being helpful in. so just as you develop that thinking, i would encourage you us informed so that we can incorporate it into the work we do here in this committee. thank you very much. yield back, madam chair. >> secretary acosta, my questions have to do with the selection of job corps centers. and we require that centers are chosen based on past achievements and outcomes. and that is a significant part
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of that evaluation whenan making those decisions. this aligns with your own priorities through job corps in the form of increased performance standards. yet one of the things i heard from operators and from constituents is that contract award decisions are no longer performance outcomes. that, in fact, the vast majority of the contracts are being given to new operators, regardless of the successful performance of the current contractth holder. are you purposefully moving away from focusing on student outcomes when selecting job corps centers? >> in fact, we are focusing much more on student outcomes in judging job corps performance and in job corps centers. so to the extent that's what contracts are saying, that is an accurate. >> i can give you an example within my own district with the los angeles jobto corps, which s
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an outstanding record, has been there for years, is something that the community at large just raves about. because of the outcomes with the young people that it deals with. yet, you chose a company that runs a d private prison in addition to the job corps center that absolutely has no connection whatsoever with los angeles and doesn't understand it. it's just hard to believe that thatlu is standard, performance outcome relationship in our community that is a priority when somebody like this could be chosen. >> congresswoman, i noted that you had sent ady letter regardig this and i inquired about this just this morning. and i i was told that the selection happen actually before
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i was confirmed as labor secretary, and that's within a job, , sorry, a selection prote, a contract protest and witty gao. gao upheld the contract selections i can't speak to what happened for i was labor secretary but it certainly is not my view that a job courses should be selected over anything other than outcomes. but i'm also say, let me be a little bit more broad. one of the issues in job corps interest is also a lack of safety. when i say the focus of outcomes, let me amend it if i could and also say that safety is incredibly important and the contractor, hasd nothing to do with this particular job, just for the record, or there's a safety issue i think the safety issue has to be considered right alongside performance outcomes.
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>> maybe we can talk more about that so i can understand that decision better. >> gladly. >> i just want to make i guess more of the statement than a question, with regards to congressman harris was saying at the beginning, and you mentioned the fact that you're hoping the supreme court would rule in the administrations favor when it camect to aca. i just want to point out that if they were to rule in favor of the administration, that the impact would be, the decision would be immediate. impact would be that over the first year people would be losing their health insurance. medicaid expansion would go away. states could not afford to cover thosera individuals that were newly enrolled and would not be able to offer coverage in the
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following years. what is the president's proposal to replace aca? >> congresswoman, thank you. i think the question went to association association health plans, but going to your question regarding the aca, clearly if the supreme court was to strike it down, the president would have to work and should be working with congress because we need speedy let me just interrupt you. with the president hase said is that he will work on the replacement after the election, which would be in 2021, which means all these people including those that have pre-existing conditions and are being treated now would lose their health care and their lives would be in danger. i yield back. >> let me know recognize congressman cole for any final
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comments. >> i want to thank you, mr. secretary. i again apologize to you and apologize to my friendsdsr on e committee for arriving late, and would've preferred to be your early but frankly always find your testimony and lightning and helpful to this committee. but again of what you think my chair for allowing me to come in at a later time. we put some incredibly important responsibilities in your hand, and extraordinary wide range of authority. i'm very satisfied honestly with a in which you handled it ever since you been at the department of labor. i think you got a great staff. i think some of the work you've done, and enough sometimes it's controversial but things like the associate health plans is just really cutting edge. i feel like you and the president that put the appropriate emphasis on apprenticeship programs trying to get is the kind of workforce that's employable where folks cann go on and have successful
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life and career. it's worth noting as my friend mr. harris pointed out, must be doing something right when you got it an opponent rate that soloist with that in nearly half a century and when we have historically disadvantaged groups that are doing better in terms of the employment rates and wage growth than we've seen in quite some time. i think, that doesn't mean there's not a lot to do. there's always a lot to do. doesn't mean we can't do better and shouldn't try to do better. it does and goodwill. but i think every now and then it's our appropriate job here to be rigorous in oversight and ask tough questions, and i think we do that prettyy well on a bipartisan basis and have no problem. we ought to pull back a little bit at least in terms of what's happening to american workers in terms of their employment rate, terms of their compensation, and in terms of trying to close a
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real stubborn skills gap and provide frankly for the benefit of the country as well as the workers, we used the people we have in ways that are fulfilling to them and allow them to prosper. the record is pretty good, and it's something that you and your colleagues at the department to be exceptionally proud of. so thank you for the man in which you lead, the man and would you conduct yourself, and i lookd forward to working with you again for the balance of the administration. thank you very much, madam chair. i yield back. much.nk you very let me just a couple comments and then a closing remark as well. i just want to set the record straight in some of these theories. we spoke about job corps and about safety. i think it's important to note that whilest the safety should always be the most important conservative since, $709 cut to the program does not insure -- $700 million cut. does not ensure the safety. i do not know what you are
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speaking about when you have the conversation with ambassador lighthizer with regard to ilab and enabling legislation. i think that what the severe cuts to ilab really does put us in a place where we are not really taking the opportunity to oversee the trade agreement. i might add, not force labor child labor. other expertt staff, completedn important for your project that tackled the fire and building safety for bangladeshi garment workers. so i don't know what the enabling legislation you're making reference to, and at the moment were not evenen sure whee the renegotiated treaty is going. with regard to the overtime
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rule, i i just might note for e that under the obama administration's overtime rule come workers with new protections would be 4.55 million workers. under the trump administration overtime rules, workers with new protections would be 1.4 million workers. i, , too, like my colleague, tom cole, what i said at the outset, it was not my intention to make any reference to what i established at the outset of the kind of a cloud that exists with regard to the skin case, but i would also say to you that i think it is important that the district judge did find that the secretary violated the crime victims rights act by secretly arranging a plea deal. the issue is here. it's for the sake of the victims.
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justice needs to be served, and i'm sure there's lots of legalities around this but i would just make that point because i think we have to understand all of the pieces of the case as well. as i said in my opening remarks, the mission of the department and i will call it again, to foster conformal, developed the welfare of wage earners, jobseekers and retirees in the united states, improve working conditions, advanced opportunities for profitable employment, assure work related benefits and rights. i think you can see for most of the questions here today from the subcommittee that is really deep concern about the proposed cuts and elimination. and quite honestly your answers do not bear out the fact that what you say right up front in the first page of your testimony that we can do more with less. on osha, i have to note that
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your own department has to contradict your claim. you talked about work development, employment and training. that's going to cut $1.2 billion. again, with osha the agency has the lowest number of inspectors in years. your decision not to hire any inspectors from january 2017 to october 2017 did not help. meanwhile, the number of what the titles investigated by osha is that a ten year high. finally, there been comments made today that the administration is simply living within the cap. that isth simply false. the president actually proposes massive increases for defense spending through a budget gimmick. if the administration was actually adhering to the caps, defense budget would be cut by
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$71 billion. instead, the president proposes, the law, what he's doing is promoting outside of the cap through oco, and self described budget gimmick. the request is $105 billion more than wasn't acted in fiscal year 2019. so it's not true that the administration is living within the caps. your mission is the heart and soul of what this country is about, in terms of fostering work in giving people the opportunity for job training, for the opportunity to have a
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life that is, with economic security. and we know that 70% of the people in this country do not have a four year college degree. and, quite frankly, they may not need one but we do have the obligation to look at employment and training, look at the best way to provide them with the potential for their success. and thatni is through a very substantially good run program of registered apprenticeship. it's working. the europeans have standards, strict standards, to open the door to what has happened to the for-profit colleges and what's happened with the loan servicers, and putting students at risk. that's not the road that when you do go down. that's not with this agency is about. you are the secretary of labor, and i would think that what you
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would want on your watch is a way to build a workforce for the 21st century, and not cut the corners and cut the programs, the heart out of the programs that would help make that difference. i'm going to call this hearing to a close. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the only thing we have to fear is fear


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