House OKs Apprenticeship Program Opposed by the GOP

WASHINGTON – Here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Nov. 20.


Expanding federally funded apprenticeships: Voting 246 for and 140 against, the House on Nov 20 passed a bill (HR 8294) that would authorize $3.5 billion over five years to expand federally funded apprenticeship programs. While the bill would prepare workers for jobs in traditional industries such as manufacturing, transportation and construction, it also would fund instruction and on-the-job training for specialized fields such as early childhood education, advanced health care and green energy. In addition, the bill would promote work opportunities for persons with diverse backgrounds and criminal records traditionally left out of apprenticeship programs.

The bill drew Republican opposition, in part, because it quashed the Trump administration’s Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, which receive federal funding but operate with few regulations and are not welcoming to unions.

Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., said the bill “would create one million apprenticeship opportunities … with an average starting salary after completion of around $70,000” free of student debt. “It ensures businesses can fill key vacancies with credentialed, skilled employees – in short, putting people back to work.”

Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. said the bill “reinforces the idea, there’s only one way to do things, the government’s way. When will the Democrats learn that the American people are not interested in government-mandated socialist policies. Once again, Democrats are choosing to bend to the will of `big labor’ instead of putting American workers first.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.


Voting yes: Terri Sewell, D-7 

Voting no:  Bradley Byrne, R-1, Martha Roby, R-2, Mike Rogers, R-3, Mo Brooks, R-5, Gary Palmer, R-6

Not voting: Robert Aderholt, R-4 

Defeating GOP apprenticeship plan: Voting 142 for and 243 against, the House on Nov. 20 defeated a Republican alternative to HR 8294, above. The amendment sought to shift the focus of federally funded apprenticeships from Department of Labor-registered programs, which issue nationally recognized work credentials and allow extensive union involvement, toward regional business-run Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, which receive taxpayer funding but operate with few federal rules and diminished or non-existent union participation. The GOP measure also would slash funding levels in the underlying bill and end coordination between the departments of labor and education in structuring apprenticeships.

Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said the GOP alternative removes “barriers that have developed … in the current (80-year-old) system, creates parity between union and nonunion sponsored programs and makes it easier for everyone to participate, particularly the small businesses.”

Bobby Scott, D-Va., said the measure “undermines the core premise … to create one million more (apprenticeships) over the next five years. There is a 77% reduction in funding” in the GOP plan, “resulting in only 219,000 million new apprenticeship opportunities.”

A yes vote was to adopt the GOP plan.


Voting yes: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Brooks, Palmer

Voting no: Sewell

Not voting: Aderholt 


Blocking Judy Shelton as fed governor: Voting 47 for and 50 against, the Senate on Nov. 17 failed to advance the nomination of libertarian economist Judy L. Shelton, 66, to the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors. But Republicans left open the possibility of a revote this year on her appointment to the seven-member board that sets U.S. monetary policy.

Shelton served under President Trump as U.S. envoy to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. She has been affiliated with conservative organizations including the Hoover Institution and the Atlas Network and numerous “sound money” and free-market causes.

Although Shelton presented herself to the Senate as an orthodox economist, she has endorsed a return to the gold standard; called for abolishing the Fed; questioned whether the Fed should remain independent; doubted the accuracy of government statistics; advocated a single North American currency; urged the elimination of federal deposit insurance; and both supported and opposed the central bank’s use of low interest rates and bond purchases to fight recessions. She has walked back some of her most provocative comments on economic policy.

Nobody spoke on behalf of Shelton on the Senate floor.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Shelton’s criticism of federal deposit insurance, “an institution that has protected American savings since the 1930s,” helps explain why “over 130 of the nation’s top economists, including seven Nobel laureates, have opposed her nomination, as have countless alumni of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.”

A yes vote was to advance the nomination to a final vote.


Voting yes: Richard Shelby, R 

Voting no: Doug Jones, D 

Confirming Stephen Vaden as U.S. trade judge: Voting 49 for and 43 against, the Senate on Nov. 18 confirmed Stephen A. Vaden, 38, the Department of Agriculture general counsel, for a lifetime appointment to the United States Court of International Trade. A specialized unit of the federal judiciary, the nine-judge panel adjudicates trade and customs-law disputes involving federal agencies, corporations, labor unions, private citizens, foreign governments and other litigants.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.


Voting yes: Shelby

Voting no:  Jones


Congress is in Thanksgiving recess until the week of Nov. 30.