June 22, 2017
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which will reauthorize the Perkins Career and Technical Education program. H.R. 2353 builds on the House's bipartisan efforts in the last Congress, when this Chamber passed CTE reauthorization by a vote of 405-5.

   The research is clear: The United States workforce is suffering a skills gap. According to Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the United States will require at least some postsecondary education or skills acquisition. Yet, if the current trend holds, by 2020, our Nation will have more than 5 million fewer skilled workers than necessary to fill the high-skilled jobs which will be available. In Virginia alone, that is 30,000 open jobs; 17,000 are in the area of cybersecurity, and those jobs have salaries starting at $88,000.

   This bipartisan, comprehensive reauthorization will improve program quality and services for students most in need of skills. It will also update the Federal investment in CTE to provide increased State and local flexibility, while ensuring greater accountability for program quality.

   It ensures that there remains in place a Federal focus on equity of opportunity and the role of the U.S. Department of Education to protect and promote the civil rights of all students and compliance with Federal laws.

   The bill also strengthens the Federal commitment to support delivery of high-quality CTE programs by retaining the Department of Education's full authority to approve or disapprove State and local plans.

   The bill also requires Federal oversight, monitoring, and technical assistance to support program improvement and maintains full authority of the Secretary to enforce compliance with statutory program requirements and Federal civil rights laws.

   I would like to thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Krishnamoorthi) and the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Thompson) for their bipartisan leadership, and the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Langevin) for his leadership as the chair of the CTE Caucus and for his dedication to realizing a comprehensive program reauthorization.

   Mr. Speaker, this bill was unanimously reported by the committee. It has nearly unanimous support from business groups, educators, and community stakeholders, so I urge my colleagues to support the bill.