President Bush Signs Flexibility for Displaced Workers Act

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On Friday, President Bush expanded disaster relief employment by signing the Flexibility for Displaced Workers Act.
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H.R. 3761, which passed the House of Representatives unanimously early last week, expands the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and adds significant flexibility to the Department of Labor’s National Emergency Grant (NEG) program to help provide employment and training for displaced Gulf Coast workers. According to a Congressional press release, more than $191 million in NEGs has been awarded by the Department of Labor creating more than 40,000 temporary jobs in the Gulf Coast region.

“This measure accomplishes a very basic goal: it makes more jobs and training available to more displaced workers more quickly,” Representative Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said in a prepared statement.

The Flexibility for Displaced Workers expands the NEG program making NEG funds available to displaced workers outside the designated disaster area. It also allows workers, including those who are unemployed, who are not eligible for unemployment compensation, whose unemployment compensation has expired or who have no prior work history, to obtain public sector jobs not directly related to the disaster the announcement of passage by the House states. According to the Congressional statement, it empowers the Secretary of Labor to extend the duration of NEG projects to 12 months from the current 6 months, as well.

“President Bush’s action today [September 23, 2005] will accelerate the Gulf region’s recovery by providing more jobs, more job training and other supportive services to survivors of Hurricane Katrina. IT gives the Department of Labor the flexibility we need to get more help to more people as quickly as possible,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said in a statement released in response to the president’s action.

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