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Senators offer bipartisan bill to create tax credit for costs of skills training

Senators offer bipartisan bill to create tax credit for costs of skills training
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday introduced legislation to create a tax credit for skills training costs in an effort to help people who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation is being offered by Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill House unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE (D-Minn.), Ben SasseBen SasseGOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Pence: Trump and I may never 'see eye to eye' on events of Jan. 6 White House: Biden will not appoint presidential Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Neb.), Cory BookerCory BookerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Biden's European trip Teen who filmed Floyd murder awarded honorary Pulitzer Senate confirms first Muslim American federal judge MORE (D-N.J.) and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottKerry Washington backs For the People Act: 'Black and Brown voters are being specifically targeted' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain Black Republican advocates his case for CBC membership MORE (R-S.C.).

"Bold action is required to help newly unemployed Americans find their footing and begin preparing for life after the pandemic,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “This new legislation will help Americans gain skills that will be in demand for years to come and position them to rapidly reenter the workforce with increased earning potential as soon as businesses begin hiring again.”

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Under the bill, people who lose their jobs in 2020 due to the pandemic would be eligible to receive a fully refundable tax credit of up to $4,000 to cover the cost of training expenses incurred through the end of 2021.

The credit could be used to offset the cost, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, of skills training programs such as apprenticeships, certificate programs and two- and four-year educational programs. Distance-learning costs are also eligible to be offset by the credit.

The bill comes after the Labor Department reported that the U.S. lost 20.5 million jobs in April, with the unemployment rate soaring to 14.7 percent. During a recent interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell expressed concerns that people’s skills will atrophy if they are out of work for a long period of time.

“Our economy was changing rapidly before this nasty virus and the current economic crisis is going to speed things up,” Sasse said. “We have to make sure that Americans have the skills we need to compete. Workers who are using this bumpy time to update their skills and retrain for new jobs are going to be a big part of that comeback, and we ought to reward them for their perseverance and grit. We’re going to come out of this stronger.”