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Weekly Update: Freeing America’s Youth to Pursue Their Dreams
From the Desk of Rob Wittman
Every parent knows the look. The look of a child’s unbridled happiness as she discovers a new passion. After seeing that look, we cannot help but dream of our children finding a career providing them that same fulfillment each day.
For so long, we told America’s youth that a 4-year college program was necessary to live that life. But today, that’s not always the case. Many of our best paying -and most essential- jobs do not require a 4-year degree, but instead a Career Technical Education (CTE) or a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) professional credential.
Despite the availability and necessity of these jobs, the United States lags behind the rest of the world in CTE and STEM program enrollment. That’s why, earlier this week, Congresswoman Spanberger (D-VA-07), Congressman Upton (R-MI-06), Congressman Philips (D-MN-03), and I reintroduced the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act.
This bill gives Virginians the freedom to use their 529 Savings Accounts to cover the costs of CTE and STEM workforce training and credentialing programs, as well as the costs of exams and certification credentials. Specifically, this bill would expand the programs eligible for 529 savings accounts, including training or credentialing programs recognized by a state government or the federal government or otherwise widely recognized as a reputable credential provider for an occupation. If this bill passes, 529 savings accounts would continue to be eligible to pay for their current allowable uses, such as colleges and vocational schools.
We named this bill the Freedom to Invest in America’s Future Act because that’s exactly what it does: give America’s youth the freedom they deserve to pursue not only their dreams but the career that is right for them. We introduced this bill last Congress, but it has never been more essential than it is right now.
As we turn the corner on the COVID-19 pandemic, springtime provides a fitting metaphor. We concluded a year of disruption and isolation with a dark winter full of hardship. But as winter ends and spring begins to bloom, so too will our economy.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects over 4% GDP growth in the coming year. In more relatable terms, that means millions of jobs will come back, providing opportunity and stability for millions of American families. For those jobs to have their full impact and fully unleash our economic potential, we must have a workforce capable of filling them. I am proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in reintroducing a bill to do so and sincerely hope to see it pass.
In a time of such bitter divide in Congress, it’s a relief to see Democrats and Republicans join together on a commonsense bill, and work in a genuinely bipartisan manner. I hope to see this Congress leave behind its pattern of reckless spending and partisan messaging bills, and instead, embrace an agenda focused on passing bipartisan legislation improving the lives of Americans in Virginia and across the nation.