WASHINGTON (June 29, 2011) – After hearing emotionally charged stories from unemployed individuals at a rallies Minnesota and Detroit, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has introduced the Put America to Work Act of 2011 (H.R. 2368).
The bill would authorize $350 billion in grants to help state and local governments, as well as Native American Tribes, to create jobs for unemployed and underemployed individuals who live in distressed communities. Congressman Ellison, who had introduced this legislation during the last Congressional session, and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are touring the country to hear Americans’ concerns about jobs. Hundreds of people attended the tour launch on June 18 in Minneapolis and the second stop on June 27 in Detroit. The tour will cover 13 cities over the coming weeks.
The grants would create community revitalization job opportunities in the public, non-profit and private sectors. States and localities are experiencing large budget deficits that have forced them to lay off employees at a time when the national unemployment rate is over 9 percent. States’ budget problems will worsen this summer when American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funding runs out.
“I’ve heard stories from Minneapolis residents who have been looking for work for months—and sometimes up to a year,” noted Rep. Ellison. “These people were on the verge of tears as they described diligently looking for jobs so they can feed their families, keep a roof over their heads, and visit a doctor when they’re sick. Everyone I meet wants to work.”
The legislation would speed hiring for certain jobs within nine months of enactment. These would include repairing schools and libraries, restoring abandoned properties in areas with high home foreclosure rates, and renovating parks, playgrounds and public spaces.
“Americans want Washington to spur creation of good jobs that put unemployed people back to work and we know we have crucial physical infrastructure repairs to be made,” Rep. Ellison added. “This bill would address both of those needs.”