Jun 11, 2017

The Apprentice (Washington edition)

The White House and Congress have a one-two punch planned for "workforce development week" — which will actually be stretched out over two weeks because House leadership has legislation ready to go.

  1. The White House will take administrative actions to expand apprenticeships and job retraining. The administration's goal is to plug the "skills gap" that's leaving an estimated 6 million jobs unfilled. The President's daughter Ivanka will be leading the drive, along with senior advisor Reed Cordish, from Jared Kushner's Office of American Innovation, and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta.
  2. The following week, House leadership will drop onto the floor the first significant workforce training legislation of this congressional session. It's a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the "Perkins Act" for six years — providing more than $1 billion per year in federal support for career and technical education programs.

Around the corner: A senior House aide tells me members are looking at another bill "to help welfare recipients find work, and focus current welfare spending on reducing welfare dependency by increasing employment."

Why it matters: As Axios' Chris Matthews reported last week, "firms are demanding more labor, but not finding qualified workers, even as millions of Americans remain unemployed or outside the formal labor market. This is evidence of an expanding skills gap between what Americans can do and what Corporate America needs done."

Other calendar notes:

  • Veterans bill: On Tuesday, House will vote on the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. The bill makes it easier to "remove, demote or suspend (for longer than 14 days) any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct." After the House passes the bill it goes to the President's desk for signing.
  • Russia watch: Also on Tuesday, the Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. We don't know yet whether it'll be a closed or open hearing.
  • Cuba policy: On Friday, the President is expected to travel to Miami, where he's expected to announce that he's reversing parts of President Obama's historic "opening" to Cuba. Cuba hardliners in Congress like Marco Rubio have been pushing hard behind the scenes.

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