As your representative, it’s a priority of mine to build relationships across the aisle and find pragmatic solutions to the problems facing our nation. Now — more than ever — our families, our students, our workers and our veterans need real solutions. You deserve solutions to help create jobs, build a healthy economy, provide more opportunity and ensure access to quality health care. I’ve had a busy week in Congress, and we have made good progress to pass bipartisan solutions that you and your neighbors desperately need. I’m proud to announce that two of my bills — the Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling (H.R. 4802) and the Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act of 2014 (H.R. 4802) — passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
It’s not often you see Congress and the president work together, but this week the president finally signed a bill to invest in our workforce and take steps to solve the jobs crisis in our country. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (H.R. 803) was signed into law to consolidate and streamline workforce development programs, protect taxpayer dollars and ensure that workers have the skills they need to get the jobs that are out there. As a cosponsor of the House-passed version, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, I was invited by the White House to attend the bill signing ceremony. While there’s still work to be done, I’m pleased to see these commonsense reforms finally cross the finish line, and I will continue working with my colleagues to help North Carolinians get back to work.
A good education is the key to opportunity and jobs in our country. As the son of a teacher, I know the importance of education, and I remain committed to making higher education more accessible to our students. Right now, the skyrocketing cost of tuition is a major problem in our country that prohibits many students from pursuing higher education and forces others to rely on borrowing money to achieve their dreams. Combined with the bleak job prospects recent college graduates face, many of these students do not realize the financial commitment they are undertaking and its impact on their future. This week, the House passed a bipartisan bill I offered with Republican Rep. Brett Guthrie and Democrat Rep. Suzanne Bonamici — the Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act — to help ensure that student borrowers and parents receive interactive counseling each year to empower them to make smart decisions about their financial future.
Counseling is already required before students can receive their first federal loan, but a survey of current students and recent graduates with a high level of student loan debt found that more than 40 percent could not recall having received financial counseling. This is unacceptable, and our current policies are failing to equip our students with the tools needed to make wise financial decisions. As a result, many of our students graduate unable to manage their loans, leading to significant hardships for borrowers and a bigger risk for taxpayers. With the national unemployment rate for young Americans at 13.2 percent, it is imperative that we help our students make sound financial decisions that will greatly impact their future.
I ran for Congress because I was fed up with Washington’s inability to get things done. Every day, you hear about another politician who refuses to work with someone because of what side of the aisle they stand on. As your representative, I will never compromise my conservative principles, but I will continue to reach across the aisle to work with my colleagues on areas where we can find common ground and put you, your family and your priorities first.
Richard Hudson, a Republican from Concord, represents U.S. House District 8, which includes most of Robeson County.