Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

Rush Opening Statement at DOE FY20 Budget Oversight Hearing

May 9, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, delivered the following opening remarks at the hearing on “The Fiscal Year 2020 DOE Budget.”

Rush Remarks as Prepared for Delivery:

I would like to thank everyone for attending today’s oversight hearing on DOE’s FY20 Budget proposal and I would like to welcome Secretary Perry back to the Subcommittee. 

Mr. Secretary, DOE’s FY2020 budget requests $31.7 billion, a $4 billion decrease from the FY2019 enacted level, and it includes extreme reductions to critical programs.
Federal investments in clean energy programs, power grid operations, next generation energy technologies, and economic development for Tribal communities are drastically decreased in this proposal.

Important departments such as the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is reduced by 86 percent from FY 2019 levels, with the vast majority of these cuts, more than $700 million, coming from energy efficiency programs.

Additionally, the budget proposal would slash the Office of Science, which funds the 17 national laboratories, by $1 billion from the FY 2019 enacted level, while also eliminating the Advanced Research Programs Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) in FY 2020.

As you can imagine, many of these proposed cuts are nonstarters as far as I am concerned as these reductions would severely impact federally-funded investment in clean energy research and development, harming our economy and global status as leaders in these areas. 

However, another issue that I would like to discuss with you today is the dire need for federal investment in workforce training to help put thousands of Americans to work in good-paying jobs and career. 

Mr. Secretary, just last month Brookings released a groundbreaking and eye-opening study entitled: “Advancing Inclusion Through Clean Energy Jobs”.
Some of the key findings in this report found that employees in clean energy jobs earn higher and more equitable wages than all workers nationally, with mean hourly wages topping national averages by 8 to 19 percent.

The study found that clean energy jobs provide tremendous opportunities for low-income workers to increase their salaries by earning up to $5-$10 more per hour compared to other jobs.

Despite higher wages, the study found that many clean energy jobs actually have lower educational requirements, with close to 50-percent of these workers holding only a high school diploma but earning higher wages than comparable peers in other industries.

Mr. Secretary, as you may be aware, the energy workforce overall is currently dominated by older, white, male workers, and this also holds true within the clean energy sector, as women make up less than 20-percent of workers in the clean energy production and energy efficiency sectors, and less than ten percent of these workers are African American. 

Many of the recommendations for addressing these disparities are included in my workforce bill, HR 1315, including a focus on STEM education, aligning education and training with industry needs locally and regionally, and increasing apprenticeships and on-the-job learning.

So, I look forward to hearing from you, Mr. Secretary, on the importance of investing in a program to train underrepresented workers as a way to meet the needs of industry, while also helping families and communities by providing employment opportunity and promoting economic inclusion.

With that I yield the balance of my time and I now recognize my friend and colleague, Ranking Member Upton for five minutes.