06.11.08

ENZI INTRODUCES BILL TO MODERNIZE EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES LEGISLATION WILL CREATE MORE, BETTER JOBS, AND RESTORE ACCOUNTABILITY TO FEDERAL PROGRAMS

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ranking Member of theSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP Committee), todayintroduced a bill to expand and revitalize the two main federal employment and trainingprograms for persons with significant disabilities, paving the way to create more, betterjobs and restore accountability to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. The bill includes key reforms to solve the problems Senator Enzi uncovered in2005 as Chairman of HELP Committee, when he conducted a six-month investigationand found that programs under the Randolph-Sheppard Act and the Javits-Wagner-O’DayAct (JWOD) were failing to produce many jobs, have not been updated in decades, andare vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse, sometimes resulting in worker exploitation.Enzi began the investigation at the urging of program participants alleging programimproprieties. “These programs are performing dismally and we must improve them,” Enzisaid. “My main goal is to create more and better jobs for individuals with disabilities.This bill will allow greater flexibility and provide real job training so Americans withdisabilities can develop marketable skills and knowledge to make meaningful careerchoices. The bill also restores accountability to these programs to make sure workers areno longer exploited.” The bill specifically empowers a strong regulator to police bothprograms and protect workers. Enzi said his investigation, and the HELP Committee hearing that followed,revealed several troubling trends, including: • The programs produced few jobs for individuals with disabilities. Although thereare 15 million unemployed persons with disabilities, JWOD and Randolph-Sheppard produced just 48,000 jobs.• JWOD and Randolph-Sheppard are ancient statutes that have not kept pace withthe changing world. While the law, technology, commercial customs and socialnorms changed dramatically over the past decades, the programs have goneunchanged since 1971.• Regulatory neglect has given rise to waste, fraud, and abuse. The Federal Bureauof Investigation and other federal law enforcement agencies conducted raids andpursued criminal investigations in response to the HELP Committee’sinvestigative findings.“Americans with disabilities deserve better,” Enzi said. “We owe it to allAmericans to improve these programs.” ####

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