(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) joined House Education and Labor Committee Members Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Andy Levin (D-MI) and 48  colleagues in calling on House Leadership to provide no less than $15.1 billion in workforce funding in the next response package to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month nearly ten million workers filed unemployment claims in a two-week period. According to the Economic Policy Institute, nearly 20 million workers will likely be laid off or furloughed by July. Workforce boards, labor unions, community colleges, community-based organizations, small businesses, and other stakeholders are training health care, direct care, and front-line workers, but they are in desperate need of more resources.

“We must invest billions, not millions in our workers and workforce system,” the Members wrote. “By strengthening federal investments, we can support reemployment and layoff aversion strategies, as well as upskilling and reskilling opportunities and employment services for displaced and dislocated workers…Early interventions now will help prevent further economic distress and allow our economy to recover quickly while increasing access to good paying jobs for workers who are suffering through this crisis.”

In 2014, Congress addressed the challenges in our labor market through job training programs by passing the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity (WIOA) Act. WIOA outlines a clear vision for addressing the challenges of workers dislocated or displaced by COVID-19, but it needs robust investments. Since 2001, investments in state grants under WIOA have declined by almost 40 percent.

The letter was signed by: Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), André Carson (IN-07), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Judy Chu (CA-27), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Susan A. Davis (CA-53), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Diana DeGette (CO-1), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Bill Foster (IL-11), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Al Green (TX-09), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), William R. Keating (MA-09), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Conor Lamb (PA-17), James R. Langevin (RI-02), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC At-Large), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Mark Pocan (WI-02), David Price (NC-04), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP At-Large), Donna E. Shalala (FL-27), Adam Smith (WA-09), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), Mark Takano (CA-41), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Dina Titus (NV-01), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Lori Trahan (MA-03), David Trone (MD-06), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), and John Yarmuth (KY-03).

You can read a copy of the letter here.