- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sheriff Joe has a new mission.

President Obama on Wednesday tasked Vice President Joseph R. Biden with leading a new $600 million White House job training program. The duo will officially announce the initiative during a speech in Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon.

It’s not uncommon for Mr. Obama to delegate specific programs to his vice president. In 2009, for example, the president dubbed Mr. Biden the “sheriff” of his stimulus package.

The program announced Wednesday will funnel nearly $500 million into a Labor Department “job-training competition,” through which partnerships of community colleges, employers and industry can apply for funds.

Winning applications, the White House said, will be those which identify “job-driven” training programs and help guide students through college toward a career in a specific field.

“Training America’s workers with the skills they need for a good job can help middle class families feel more secure in their jobs and help American businesses grow our economy,” the White House said in a statement. “But too many businesses can’t find the skilled workers for jobs they want to fill, while too many people looking for a job may be ready to learn new skills but may not be certain there’s a job waiting for them on the other end.”

But House Republicans counter that they’ve already taken steps to address federal job-training programs. The House has passed a measure to streamline federal job-training efforts and eliminate duplicative programs, but the measure has yet to come up for a vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Voting on the GOP-backed bill rather than beginning a new initiative would be “more effective in helping out-of-work Americans get the training they need,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican.

In addition, Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden also will announce another $100 million to fund apprenticeships. That money also will be handed out through a competitive application process to be launched in the fall.