GOP senator proposes $1 billion in federal grants for summer jobs

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), involved in a tough reelection campaign against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, is proposing a $1 billion youth summer jobs program that is likely to put him at odds with his fellow Republicans.

Brown said Tuesday he would propose legislation to use $1 billion in unspent federal money on block grants to states that establish youth summer jobs programs, a system he said is based on President Obama's own summer jobs plan.

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"My legislation will allow states to establish or strengthen current summer jobs programs and give young people a better shot at working," Brown said. "I strongly believe that we need to provide our youth with the tools they need to find a summer job and that is the goal of my legislation."

Brown said the Youth Summer Jobs Act, would spend $1 billion over the next two summers to fight a teen unemployment rate that is now at about 25 percent. But the bill, which he said would introduce next week, will probably not be smiled on by most Republicans, who are looking to cut back on further federal spending and use unspent funds on deficit reduction.

Brown, who is running neck-and-neck with Warren in his first reelection campaign, announced the bill at a jobs fair in Dorchester, Mass.

The legislation would require states to apply for the funds by describing programs they are putting in place to help younger people find work during the summer.

According to a description from Brown's office: "The program is essentially a block grant to the states and localities, with awards based upon their submission of an acceptable plan. Due to the differing needs of each state, the exact implementation may vary significantly among the states."

Grants would be awarded by the Secretary of Labor. The bill would also require job recipients to be citizens or legal residents, and would only allow the funds to be used to support summer jobs, not full-time employment.

Brown's office said his bill is modeled after Obama's Pathways to Work summer jobs initiative, a $1.5 billion summer jobs program that Obama proposed in the American Jobs Act that Congress never acted on. When that proposal went nowhere, Obama called on the government and companies to work together to ensure summer work for youth, and announced a "Summer Jobs+" initiative in January.

Brown added that the bill would include a finding endorsing Obama's "Summer Jobs+" initiative, under which private companies committed to create thousands of jobs and unpaid work.