Congresswoman Martha Roby

Representing the 2nd District of Alabama

Roby Amendment strengthens SKILLS Act

March 6, 2013
Press Release

When the workforce investment legislation known as the SKILLS Act passed out of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce today, it was stronger and stricter thanks to Representative Martha Roby’s (R-AL) amendment prohibiting the use of federal workforce dollars from being used for lobbying or political purposes.  

“Workforce development agencies need to be using these precious federal resources to help unemployed workers land jobs, not to lobby Congress for more funds and certainly not to advance political beliefs,” Rep. Roby said. “This commonsense amendment simply codifies the annual appropriations language within the SKILLS Act, ensuring this restriction is a permanent part of the law.”

The SKILLS (Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Life Long Skills) Act, H.R. 803 sponsored by Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), seeks to:
     -streamline federal workforce development efforts by eliminating duplicative programs;
     -enhance flexibility by giving states more authority to direct resources based on their individual needs;
     -empower state workforce development agencies to collaborate more with community colleges by removing bureaucratic red tape.

A more detailed fact sheet on the bill can be found below.

The Roby Amendment would prohibit any state or local agency from using federal workforce funds authorized by the SKILLS Act to turn around and lobby for more funding or to engage in political activities. The Committee adopted the Roby Amendment en bloc before favorably reporting the SKILLS Act to the House of Representatives for full consideration. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has said he intends to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote next week.

“I appreciate my colleagues on the Committee adopting this amendment,” Rep. Roby said. “I urge my fellow Members on both sides of the aisle to support the SKILLS Act so we can streamline government spending, eliminate duplication and allow states to build more effective workforce development platforms.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who has said he intends to bring the SKILLS Act to the floor for a vote next week, thanked Rep. Roby for adding language that ensures more effective use of taxpayer dollars:

“The House will move to consider the SKILLS Act right away so we can provide more people with access to the skills they need for a changing job market. Congresswoman Roby’s amendment will ensure proper stewardship of these federal funds and result in more resources going directly to help Americans get back to work.”

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-VA), who is sponsoring the SKILLS Act, also thanked Rep. Roby for contributing her amendment to the bill:

“These are taxpayer dollars we are talking about. Workforce development money shouldn’t be wasted on campaigns or lobbying efforts. Millions of Americans are looking for work, and if taxpayer money is going to be spent, it should go directly toward helping underemployed Americans gain the skills and experience they need to compete for open, well-paying jobs. I am happy to incorporate Congresswoman Roby’s amendment into the SKILLS Act.”  

Enactment of the SKILLS Act with the Roby amendment would mean more resources and less burdensome paperwork for state and local workforce agencies, including the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).

ADECA Director Jim Byard said:

“The growth of our economy depends upon well-trained workers who have the skills that employers need. Thanks to resources provided by the Workforce Investment Act, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs has helped thousands of workers to obtain vital job training. I support the SKILLS Act, H.R. 803, and Rep. Roby's amendment which will reduce unnecessary costs and provide the governor more resources and greater flexibility to design a workforce delivery system to meet Alabama's rapidly changing economy.”