Youth Jobs Plan Wins Key Senate Vote
In a closely-watched key vote on an immigration bill, the Senate voted to advance the measure that includes a youth jobs program proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Sanders’ amendment would set aside $1.5 billion over two years for states and local communities to help find summertime and year-round jobs for more than 400,000 16- to 24-year-olds. Each state would get at least $7.5 million, which would mean about 2,000 jobs for Vermont.
“At a time when real unemployment is close to 14 percent and even higher among young people and minorities, it is absolutely imperative that we create millions of decentpaying jobs in our country,” Sanders said.
Sanders had criticized a provision in the immigration bill that lets students from colleges in other countries and other guest workers take U.S. jobs. It’s the least Congress should do, Sanders said, to also help unemployed young Americans find work.
U.S. employers, he added, have taken advantage of students from abroad who will work for less pay and whose wages are not subject to Social Security, Medicare and other taxes that businesses would owe on U.S. workers. “Today the J-1 program has morphed into a low-wage jobs program to allow corporations like Hershey’s and McDonald’s and many others to replace young American workers with cheaper labor from abroad,” Sanders said.
Sanders’ youth jobs proposal was added to an amendment to provide a surge of personnel and technology along the border between the United States and Mexico. While Sanders has said he wants to strengthen border security, he remains concerned about the serious potential for waste, fraud and abuse by private contractors who will be eligible to receive funding under this bill that the Republicans demanded.