DeLauro goes to school to back Obama on jobs

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, stopped at West Haven High School on Wednesday to publicize a piece of legislation she says would improve the quality of education — and reinforce a political message by President Obama about his latest stimulus plan.

Flanked by educators and union carpenters, electricians and painters DeLauro praised a bill geared to showing sympathy towards a Democratic consituency hard hit by the economic downturn.

“Connecticut lost 18,600 construction jobs in the last three years,” she said, “That’s why the Fix America’s Schools Today — that’s the FAST Act — it’s a good one.”

The FAST Act is just one piece of President Obama’s $447 billion American Jobs Act, now blocked by congressional Republicans as both parties enter the 2012 races for control of Congress and the White House.

It would provide $30 billion for the modernization and renovation of K-12 schools and community college facilities across the U.S., and DeLauro said it could create up to 2,400 jobs in the state.

But there’s little chance that Obama’s larger jobs package will move through Congress. The Republican minority in Senate blocked passage in the upper chamber last week, and the Republican majority in the House has refused to bring it up for a hearing.

Speaking from a small wooden lectern in the school’s library, DeLauro acknowledged an uphill battle.

“In the House of Representatives, we can’t even get a hearing. For the single biggest issue facing the nation today,” she said. “Whether or not you are for this bill or against the bill — at least allow it to have a hearing so it can be debated.”

Despite the political climate, DeLauro spoke of the bill as if it had a chance.

Forty percent of that $30 billion would be sent to the 100 neediest school districts in the U.S, she said. The remaining 60 percent would be split evenly amongst the states. That means Connecticut would receive $185 million in grants for K-12 schools, and $38 million for community colleges.

“We’re talking electrical upgrades, water supply, plumbing systems, windows, roofing,” said DeLauro. “This is about maintenance, repair and renovation.”

It’s about creating jobs, she said. “That’s how we get this economy back on track.”

DeLauro’s remarks Wednesday coincided with President Obama’s last day of a three day bus tour aimed at garnering support for the American Jobs Act. Reeling from the Senate defeat, the President said he’s willing to break the Jobs Act up into smaller pieces of legislation in order to get some of it passed.

DeLauro echoed his intentions.

“The Majority in the House has summarily refused to bring up this piece of legislation,” she said, “So maybe in the House, we can deal with this in pieces.”