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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee today said the Committee has introduced an employment and job training assistance package for victims of Hurricane Katrina, which will help workers displaced by the disaster get back to work and rebuild their lives and communities.

The bill, the “Hurricane Katrina Employment and Training Assistance Act,” S. 1718, provides increased flexibility to National Emergency Grants (NEG), which will help make more jobs and training available to workers displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina. It also will provide subsidies to hire workers for various public sector jobs.

“Moms and dads struggling to keep families together following this disaster need opportunities to earn wages and provide for their families,” said Enzi. “With this bill we will build on existing federal grant-making authority to encourage more temporary jobs that will help meet the needs of those displaced families. Projects eligible for the expanded grants may include rebuilding projects directly related to relief in the Gulf Coast as well as public works needed in communities outside the disaster area.”

The relief package, introduced late Monday, is the bipartisan package cosponsored by the HELP Committee’s ranking member, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

S. 1718 will provide expanded employment and job training assistance authorized under the “Workforce Investment Act,” to those affected by Hurricane Katrina by:

• Allowing subsidized employment in public sector jobs not related to the disaster;

• Allowing previously awarded NEG funds as well as new grants to be used for employment and training assistance targeted to workers affected by Hurricane Katrina;

• Expanding eligibility for jobs and training to individuals who are employed and have no work history in addition to those who lost their jobs as a result of Hurricane Katrina;

• Authorizing needs related payments to individuals receiving employment assistance if they do not qualify or have ceased to qualify for unemployment compensation;

• Encouraging the use of mobile One-Stop Centers for employment and training assistance and expanded operational hours for One-Stop Centers during the recovery;

• Expanding the duration of temporary employment projects from 6 months to 12 months if necessary.