We’re so used to hearing about partisan gridlock in Congress, it’s almost shocking to hear that Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) — political polar opposites — have teamed up to design a compelling piece of legislation, the LEAP act, The Washington Post reports.
As WP points out, Booker and Scott are both black, bald, in their 40s, unmarried, and two of the youngest members of the Senate. But when it comes to politics, they couldn’t be more different. Booker, a liberal former Newark mayor, won the special election last year to grab a seat at the Senate. Scott, beloved by the Tea Party and a proud member of the NRA, shifted from the House to the Senate after replacing Jim DeMint in 2012.
Yeah, the two couldn’t be any further on the political spectrum. But the two put their differences aside and aligned themselves together for a common cause — the Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs (LEAP) act. The goal of the bill, if it’s signed into law, is that four million jobs in the US will be filled through apprenticeship programs. This, according to Booker and Scott, will help rectify the youth jobless rate.
Unlike internships, apprenticeships offer both on-the-job training and coaching for high-skilled occupations. Only 0.2 of Americans workers are apprentices. “Companies in highly-skilled fields face a shortfall of as many as 4 million workers and the number is expected to climb to nearly 5 million by 2020,” WP added.
“The LEAP Act will address gaps in opportunity especially for youth in communities of color. Young people with just a high school diploma face unemployment rates of nearly 30%. Sadly for African-Americans the jobless rate is 40%. I am excited to work with my colleague Senator Scott to introduce legislation that identifies ways we can start to address this disparity,” Booker told Politic365 in an email.
The legislation particularly targets Americans between the ages of 16 and 24. Businesses will be encouraged to hire within that age range with a $1,500 in federal tax credit. Employers who hire employees over the age of 25 will only get a $1,000 in credit.
It’s unclear how likely the bill is to pass. But Booker and Scott say, depending on the success of this legislation, they just might work together again in the future.
“You know we’ll be really successful when you start noticing more and more senators shaving their heads,” Booker quipped. “It’ll be an homage to our friendship.”