Weekly Update: Welcome Back
By Rob Wittman
September 8, 2018
The time we all knew was coming has finally arrived. Labor Day has passed, and we begrudgingly say goodbye to the hot, lazy days of summer and return back to our busy routines. This week students and teachers all across the district started a new school year and as you and your family prepare for what is to come, I want you to know about what I have been doing in Washington to make sure our schools and communities are safe and that our young people have access to the resources they need to succeed.
This Congress, we’ve taken action on multiple bills, including the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act, to strengthen our border security, better enforce immigration laws, and target dangerous gangs like MS-13. We’ve also taken concrete steps to address school safety and mental health challenges in our communities. Congress passed laws like the STOP School Violence Act to help schools and law enforcement prevent, recognize and respond to warning signs of violence. In addition, the Fix NICS Act, now the law of the land, ensures that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) operations more adequately address background check demand and improve NICS performance – including enhancing system availability, determination rates, and E-Check services.
The House has also passed, and I voted for, dozens of bills to fight human trafficking and keep kids safe online, including the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), now signed into law. These new laws are bringing real change to our nation; now, online advertising for commercial sex trafficking has gone down by 60-80 percent. The opioid epidemic continues to ravage our communities and affect our young people. This Congress, we have made historic investments in fighting this epidemic to help our localities prevent, stop, and treat addiction.
We have not just stopped there. As you may know, one of my top priorities is promoting local and state career and technical education (CTE) programs and an increased focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as a way to cultivate skill sets needed in today’s workforce and connect students with good-paying jobs.
I have been working hard in Congress to bring even more, real change for our students. I was proud to support the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which is now signed into law. The Perkins CTE program controls over $1 billion in grants for federal, state, and local CTE programs. This bill makes critical reforms that I’ve been advocating for as I visited with students, teachers, school officials, and businesses across the First District. Our reforms include expanding access to CTE programs, helping schools create partnerships with the business community so students can cultivate skills in demand by the labor market, improving and modernizing schools’ CTE programs, and giving states and localities more control over how to spend CTE dollars. This fall, I plan to host two CTE/STEM symposiums, in addition to the one I held this spring, to allow students and businesses to come together to discuss partnership opportunities and ways Congress can help our students cultivate tangible skill sets.
Starting a new school year can feel daunting at times, but it is also an opportunity to work towards a new goal or reach a new milestone. This school year, I have made it my mission yet again to continue working with you and discussing these important issues and solutions. Although we have completed so much this year, there is still so much more we can achieve – together.