WASHINGTON - Representative John Tierney of Salem joined House Democrats in walking out of a committee vote on legislation to consolidate federal job-training programs, accusing the Republican majority of ramming the bill through minority opposition to get it to the House floor.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce debated an amendment to the 1998 Workforce Investment Act, which encourages local businesses and organizations to provide career development services. The Republican proposal -- slated to be voted on next week -- would consolidate 35 of the act’s federal job-training programs into a block grant system.
Tierney, along with Congressmen George Miller of California and Ruben Hinojosa of Texas, said in a joint statment that the GOP-majority’s decision to move forward on the bill was an effort “to facilitate the Republican leadership’s public relations efforts to rebrand their party.”
The political finger-wagging extended across the aisle as well, with National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ian Prior calling Tierney’s decision to exit the meeting “a slap in the face of his constituents.”
Tierney and his fellow Democrats had previously called on Representative John Kline of Minnesota, chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, to slow the bill's markup process in hope of a more bipartisan solution.
“We didn’t come to this decision lightly,” the Democrats’ statement read, adding that they viewed the walkout as a last resort. “It would have been a dereliction of duty to continue to participate.”