It’s no secret that being speaker of the House comes with its challenges. Recently, however, I had the kind of day that makes it all worth it.
You may not have heard about this. It didn’t get splashy headlines, or go viral, or anything like that. To little fanfare, the people’s House passed major legislation to overhaul the country’s career and technical education system. It is now the law of the land.
This is one of those unglamorous reforms that actually will do a great deal to improve people’s lives. It’s something we have been working on for years.
Right now, many workers face real hurdles when it comes to acquiring the skills they need to get a good job. The reality is, our education system has failed to keep pace with the modern economy. We’ve been using 20th-century tools to address 21st-century needs.
This skills gap is one reason why there is now a record number of job openings in America—more than 6.7 million. In fact, in this booming economy, we have more job openings than we do people looking for work.
This new law will help us close this gap. Now students and workers will have a clearer path to getting the right skills and the right training, including more partnerships between local schools and businesses. These changes will make it easier for people trying to earn a good living and get on the path to a great career.
Workforce development is the last plank of House Republicans’ Better Way agenda that we began implementing at the start of 2017. At its heart was a plan to fix our tax code, another big change we finally got through after years, if not decades, of work.
Tax reform has defied the cynics, leading to an economic renaissance. After years of stagnation, our economy is growing at its fastest rate in four years. Worker pay and benefits are rising at their fastest rate in 10 years. Unemployment is near its lowest level in decades.
To bolster our national security, our agenda called for rebuilding America’s military. To address a severe readiness crisis—which has cost us the lives of service members through training accidents and incidents—we passed the biggest increase in defense funding in 15 years. We are increasing the size of our armed forces, upgrading equipment, and giving our service members their biggest pay raise in nearly a decade.
Think about all the scandals and horrifying stories out of the Department of Veterans Affairs in recent years. We are finally restoring real accountability at the VA, so our veterans can get the attention and treatment they deserve. And new reforms through the VA Mission Act will help ensure veterans receive timely care, which is the agency’s core mission.
We are tackling the chronic problems our communities face. Chances are you or someone you know has been affected by opioid addiction.
The House recently passed sweeping legislation to combat the opioid epidemic, amounting to the largest congressional effort against a single drug in history. We have strengthened barriers to prevent opioids from making it through our borders, and we are targeting deadly synthetic drugs.
The threat posed by transnational gangs like MS-13 is a consistent focus of ours. We recently passed a law, authored by Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., to free up much-needed resources for law enforcement through the Project SAFE grant program.
There is still more to do, of course. We continue to build on regulatory reforms to help our smaller banks and businesses. We need to do more to help people get off the sidelines and into the workforce.
This kind of progress doesn’t always make the cut on cable news, but we are delivering on a bold agenda. We have taken on some big challenges, and Americans are better off now.
At its core, this isn’t a story about passing bills into law. It is about the great resilience of the American people, and what we can achieve when we raise our sights. This is a story about the days that make all the challenges worthwhile.