Doubling Down on Effort to Save Montana Job Corps, Tester Pushes to Attach Closure Prevention Bill to Must-Pass Defense Legislation

Senator pushes for vote on his bill to stop transfer & closure of Civilization Conservations Centers in Darby & Anaconda

(U.S. Senate) – After introducing legislation to stop the closure or transfer of Montana’s Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is doubling down on his effort to save these critical job training programs by pushing to include his legislation in the Senate’s must-pass annual defense bill. Tester filed his Job Corps bill as an amendment to a larger legislative package – the National Defense Authorization Act – that the Senate plans to vote on later this week.

“I’m appalled by this Administration’s reckless, short-sighted decision to either close or privatize all 25 Civilian Conservation Centers across the country,” Tester said. “Since 1966, these job-training centers have helped connect local businesses with hundreds of high-skilled workers prepared to meet the demands of a 21st-century economy. That’s why I introduced legislation to reverse this decision-legislation that I intend to get passed by whatever means necessary. I won’t stop until this Administration reverses course or is blocked by Congress from closing these Job Corps Centers.”

On May 24, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) put forth a proposal to stop the USDA from operating all 25 of Forest Service-run Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers (CCC). The proposal would close nine of these CCCs-including one in Anaconda-while transferring and likely privatize the other 16-including Trapper Creek in Darby. These 25 Civilian Conservation Centers operate in 17 national forests and grasslands across 16 states and train over 4,000 young adults a year, many of whom are at-risk youth from low-income, rural communities.

Tester immediately sprung into action-introducing legislation with Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.) to prevent these critical employment centers from being subject to the whims of the President. Their bipartisan bill would prohibit the Trump Administration from unilaterally closing or transferring management of these Job Corps centers that successfully develop high-skilled workers in Montana and across the country.

Despite reports of a Presidential promise to save the Job Corps center in Anaconda-a change that representatives from the USDA and DOL say they have no plans to execute-such a reprieve would not apply to Trapper Creek. As of now, the original proposal to transfer or close all 25 USDA/Forest Service Job Corps is still posted on the Federal Registry and open for public comment through July 1, 2019.

A timeline of Tester’s effort to save Montana’s Job Corps centers:

  • Hours after the Administration’s announcement on May 24, Tester sent a letter to both USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta condemning the decision.
  • On May 30, Tester held a press call with Mike Robbins, a Butte native and co-owner of Montana Precision Products, and Zoe Hough, a 2018 Anaconda Job Corps graduate, who gave personal accounts about the importance of these programs.
  • Tester has created a portal on his website where Montana employers and workers can share their personal Job Corps stories. He plans to send these stories to the Administration.
  • On June 4, Tester took to the Senate Floor to demand action and introduce legislation to stop the Administration’s proposal and provide support and much-needed certainty to these critical job training programs.
  • On June 11, Tester sent a video message to Trapper Creek Job Corps’ special Open House expressing his outrage at the Administration’s decision and outlining the steps he’s taking to stop the transfer.

Tester’s amendment, which is co-sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and supported by Senate Democrats, must now be adopted by Republicans as part of the final legislative package. Full text of the amendment is available HERE.