On the Trump Administration’s Proposal to Merge U.S. Depts. of Labor, Education

Following is a statement by Christine Owens, executive director, National Employment Law Project:

“In a month chock-full of whiplash policymaking, today’s edition from the Trump administration is a misguided proposal to merge the Departments of Labor and Education into a single entity that will somehow be expected to simultaneously advance the interests of America’s 160 million workers and job seekers and help ensure that hundreds of millions of students receive the educational opportunities they need and deserve. Never mind that the president has previously advocated eliminating the Department of Education and has sought to cut its funding sharply and gut public schools. This latest proposal delivers a one-two punch to both workers and children. It deserves to land with a thud in Congress.

“This is neither wise, necessary nor efficient. The two agencies have entirely different missions and little overlap so the supposed opportunities for streamlining are scant. Where the agencies do overlap, such as with career and technical education and job training for adults through our community college system, the agencies have a strong track record of working together under Republican and Democratic administrations alike. But combining the agencies will only serve to dilute the focus of each and will have the entirely undesirable effect of harming children AND workers.

“This latest half-baked idea is just one more betrayal of the very workers Donald Trump pledged to put front and center when he took the oath of office. Since then, his administration has—among other things–relaxed protections for workers’ retirement savings, weakened overtime pay rights, attacked workers’ unions, rolled back important health and safety protections that would protect workers from hazardous substances on the job, and pushed through a massive tax bill that further enriches corporations and the nation’s wealthiest at the expense of workers and their families.

“Predictably, Congressional Republicans now propose to pay for this tax heist through cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, programs that tens of millions of older workers, retirees and low-wage working families rely on for basic health coverage.

“Now the administration wants to double-down on this assault on working families by marrying the Department of Labor with a Department that is essential to the well-being of students across the country, one that the president and his followers have sought to destroy.

“No good will come of this for America’s workers or America’s children and teens.  We urge the congress to reject this ill-willed and profoundly damaging proposal.”

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