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Job Corps Hits Turning Point Under Congress' Watch

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Casey said the HELP subcommittee he chairs had been told that Job Corps’ financial struggles had been resolved, only to hear about enrollment freezes this year.

Although Republicans in the Senate have been employing delay tactics to prevent Perez from being confirmed as Labor secretary for a variety of reasons, he has already promised to make the financial footing of Job Corps a top priority if confirmed.

“The program has been transformational across this country, and I further agree that the Department of Labor can, must and will do better,” Perez said. “I’ve had this discussion in almost all my meetings with senators ... and I have said to every one that you have my absolute commitment that, if confirmed, making sure the Job Corps is firing on all cylinders will be a top priority.”

Still, several lawmakers remain concerned that the program will run into another funding shortfall in 2013.

HELP staffers, in particular, questioned whether President Barack Obama’s budget request was sufficient, especially taking into account the new staff proposed to monitor the program’s finances and added operating costs for three new Job Corps centers.

“I’m a big believer in the Job Corps program,” Isakson said. “During times like these with such sustained, high unemployment, programs like Job Corps become critical to help thousands of young people get the education and training needed to get off and stay off unemployment. But as long as the department’s management fails to fill the leadership void on this issue, thousands of young adults will be missing out on an opportunity to change their lives for the better.”

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