Congressman Jim Langevin (LAN’-jih-vin) is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, on which he chairs the Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems Subcommittee and serves on the Subcommittees on Seapower and Projection Forces and Strategic Forces. He is a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security and serves on its Subcommittees on Intelligence & Counterterrorism and Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation.
Langevin was one of four legislators appointed to serve on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, and he co-founded the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, which he still co-chairs, to increase awareness around the need for stronger cybersecurity. A national leader on securing our nation’s technology infrastructure against cyber threats, Langevin has authored or co-authored dozens of pieces of cybersecurity legislation, including most recently the National Cyber Director Act.
As co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, Langevin advocates to improve and increase access to training that gives students and workers the skills that best fit the needs of expanding industries. He has successfully fought for strong CTE funding under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act and has worked to foster employer-educator partnerships and career training programs across a variety of career fields in Rhode Island.
A voice for those facing health challenges, Langevin championed passage of a bipartisan bill to expand services for families caring for their elderly and disabled loved ones. He is a strong advocate for inclusion and independence for people with disabilities and helped pass the ADA Amendments Act that strengthened the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
After serving as secretary for the state’s Constitutional Convention in 1986, Langevin won election to the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and in 1994, became the nation’s youngest Secretary of State. His leadership resulted in reforms to Rhode Island’s outdated election system and a landmark report documenting widespread violations of the state’s Open Meetings Law. He served in that role until winning election to Congress in 2000.
Langevin is the first quadriplegic to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.
At the age of 16, Langevin was injured while working with the Warwick Police Department in the Boy Scout Explorer program. A gun accidentally discharged and a bullet struck Langevin, leaving him paralyzed. The tremendous outpouring of support from his community inspired Langevin to give something back and enter public service. He is driven by the belief that everyone deserves a fair opportunity to make the most of their talents.
Langevin graduated from Rhode Island College and earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He resides in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Jobs and Economy
Over the past few years, we have seen the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. That is why my top priority has been fighting to put Rhode Islanders back to work — standing up for small businesses and taxpayers, and building a strong new foundation for the American economy.
In addition to the work I am doing in Washington, a critical component of my job is to ensure that our state takes full advantage of available resources and to connect Rhode Island stakeholders, like businesses and universities, to collaborate on shared priorities. The skills gap has been a particularly significant drag on Rhode Island’s economy, contributing to the state’s persistently high unemployment. In visits to businesses, I repeatedly hear they are struggling to fill openings because applicants lack necessary skills. Addressing this problem requires better cooperation between the businesses doing the hiring and the educators preparing the students.
Rhode Island’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly and unacceptably high at 9.1%. Making matters worse, on December 28, 2013, long-term unemployment benefits expired for all Americans. Despite bipartisan support, House Republicans have been unwilling to bring an extension to the House floor. I have cosponsored numerousbills to extend these benefits, and I have co-signedletters urging House leadership to bring these bills to the floor. I hope that the House will act swiftly to extend these benefits.
That is why I launched the Rhode Island Skilled Economy (RISE) Tour to advocate for initiatives and create partnerships that will help employers to find skilled workers that fit the needs of expanding industries. Rhode Island has the unique ability to take on small-scale, cutting-edge initiatives that serve as national models for putting innovative ideas into action, and that is why I have hosted forums and symposiums on topics that include Small Business Innovation Research, women-owned small businesses and cybersecurity workforce development.
I am committed to ensuring that Congress focuses on common-sense legislation to address job creation and tax cuts that help all Americans, not just the wealthiest. I will continue my efforts to craft policies that promote American prosperity by growing the economy with long-term fiscal discipline in mind. I am supportive of an economic growth and job creation package that includes:
Reinvesting in America’s Economy: We must provide funding to undertake infrastructure projects while investing in high growth and high demand industries such as information technology, health care and clean energy. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 375, the Make it in America Manufacturing Act, to facilitate the creation of unique public-private partnerships – bringing together federal, state, local, and regional stakeholders to develop comprehensive Manufacturing Enhancement Strategies and deliver targeted resources to strengthen this vital sector of our economy.
Encouraging Innovation: To improve our economy, we need to encourage innovation that will create 21st century jobs. The Research and Development Tax credit, which was reauthorized in early 2013, is a wonderful tool for encouraging investment in the products and technologies that will lead to a stronger 21st Century economy. Accelerated tax depreciation will allow businesses to write off certain capital expenses, encouraging them to purchase necessary goods now that will spur economic activity in other sectors.
Investing in Education and Job Training Programs: The best way to ensure America’s continued economic strength is to provide our children with a top notch education and support training programs for jobs in growing fields. Investing in our workforce will have long-term benefits for our economy. As a co-chair of the Congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, I am working in Rhode Island and at the national level to highlight the importance of career and technical education in creating jobs, retraining workers, and ensuring that students of all ages are career- and college-ready.
Protecting Consumers: When the economic downturn hit, it became clear that making a profit had become more important than protecting the consumer for many businesses. That is why I supported the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which contains the most comprehensive financial regulatory reform since the Great Depression and protects consumers, eliminates risks that contributed to the financial collapse, and puts our country on a path to prosperity.
Our public education system is one of the foundations of our democracy. Investing in our children’s education not only has long-term benefits for our economy, but it also delivers on our nation’s promise that all individuals have an equal opportunity to succeed. I am deeply committed to improving our nation’s schools so that all children, regardless of the neighborhood in which they grow up, have the chance to achieve their full potential. It is imperative that we invest in education to promote new employment and ensure that students can adapt to the jobs that will grow our 21st century economy.
I believe we must invest in our students at every level, from early childhood education to postsecondary education. In late 2015, Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, via the Every Student Succeeds Act. As we move through implementation, I will work to ensure there is flexibility at the local level, a focus on rewarding schools instead of punishing them, and encouraging great leadership from both administrators and teachers. Finally, as the cost of higher education has soared in recent years, I continue my strong support of policies and programs, like Pell Grants, to ensure that all Americans, regardless of their background or economic status, have access to higher education.
Career and Technical Education
As a co-chair of the Congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus with my colleague, Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), I am working in Rhode Island and at the national level to highlight the importance of career and technical education in creating jobs, retraining workers, and ensuring that students of all ages are career- and college-ready. CTE programs play a vital role in developing skilled workers who are capable of remaining competitive in high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand career fields. These fields include STEM disciplines, nursing, allied health, construction, information technology, energy, cybersecurity, sustainability, and other areas that keep our nation competitive in the global economy.
In June 2017, I was proud to help champion House passage of the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which would reauthorize and modernize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act through 2023. The bill makes several important improvements to Perkins, including aligning CTE programs with local industry needs, improving collaboration among community stakeholders, and promoting apprenticeships all while increasing federal investment in CTE by nine percent over five years. It encourages partnerships between business leaders and educators to ensure CTE programs meet local needs, requires states to offer high-quality CTE for all students, integrates employability skills into career pathways, and promotes the development of innovative and evidence-based CTE programs. I am particularly proud of the emphasis the bill places on both work-based learning and the role of school counselors in career exploration.
In addition to reauthorizing Perkins, Congressman Thompson and I annually lead the fight for strong Perkins funding. In 2017, we were pleased to be joined by a bipartisan group of 130 of our fellow representatives on a letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging them to provide robust funding in fiscal year 2018. CTE programs will only be successful if we ensure they are fully-funded and able to meet growing demand.
To help match workers with the skills they need, last Congress I introduced the Counseling for Career Choice Act.This bipartisan bill would provide funds to help local educational agencies offer comprehensive counseling services to students so that they can make informed decisions about their future, whether they choose a four-year degree, a career and technical education program, a private-sector apprenticeship or another option.
Student loan debt is becoming an ever-increasing burden on our students, graduates and their families. Over 40 million Americans owe more than $1.4 trillion in student debt, and the average graduate from the class of 2015 has more than $30,000 in debt. At a time when a post-secondary education is becoming ever more important, it is imperative that we make college affordable and remove the crushing weight of student debt.
On July 1, 2013, the interest rate for federal student loans doubled from 3.4% to 6.8% with the expiration of the previously-extended College Cost Reduction Act. That same month, Congress passed a compromise to tie student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury Note.While I supported that effort as a way to provide immediate relief to student borrowers, I remain concerned that rising interest rates may put college out of reach for students. For that reason, I’m a cosponsor of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which would allow students to refinance their student loans to a 3.76% interest rate, the rate for Stafford Loans issued before July 1, 2017. I will continue to monitor student loan rates and work with my colleagues to ensure the government does not profit off of college students.
I also strongly support student loan forgiveness, particularly in the case of a student becoming permanently disabled. Currently, students can have their loans forgiven if they become totally and permanently disabled, but parents who take out loans on their behalf cannot. To close this loophole, I introduced the PLUS Loan Disability Forgiveness Act, a bipartisan bill that would extend loan forgiveness to parents whose children become totally and permanently disabled.
STEM to STEAM
Art and design programs are an essential component of a well-rounded educational curriculum and play an integral role in improving student achievement and advancing the understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). I am always looking for new ways to promote the exciting new STEM fields, and in 2013, I was a founding member of the Congressional STEM to STEAM Caucus, which promotes the integration of art and design into STEM, turning it to STEAM. I’ve been proud to work with the Rhode Island School of Design, which has been a pioneer of the STEAM movement, in this mission.
This Congress, I introduced the bipartisan STEM to STEAM Act, which promotes the integration of art and design into the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Advancing Informal STEM Learning program. By supporting the design and testing of extra-curricular STEAM programs, students will have more opportunities to improve educational outcomes and promote creativity and innovation.
I am also very proud that the Every Student Succeeds Act recognized the importance of Art and Design in shaping a well-rounded education. It specifically notes the ways that STEM is complemented by STEAM and offers federal funding to blend the two into the overall curriculum.
Opposing School Vouchers
I firmly believe we must invest fully in our public education system to ensure that every child in Rhode Island and across the country has access to a world-class education. We must devote our resources to improving teacher training, decreasing class sizes, rebuilding school infrastructure, and engaging parents so that each child has the opportunity to achieve their potential. School vouchers, which provide federal tax dollars to pay private school tuition, are a misuse of taxpayer funds, and I will maintain strong opposition to any program that undermines our public education system in this way.
Small businesses are the backbone of America, and they are especially important to Rhode Island’s economy. In Rhode Island, small business owners employ a majority of the state’s private sector workers and account for the greater part of newly created jobs. Further, they bring new and innovative services and products to the marketplace and offer professional opportunities to diverse and traditionally underrepresented groups. Now more than ever, Congress must support the growth of America’s small businesses and help stimulate the engine of this nation’s economy.
Love for my home state is one of the things that motivated me to run for office. As a State Representative and later as Secretary of State, I became intimately familiar with the issues that are most important to Rhode Islanders. Since being elected to Congress, my constituents have continued to voice their concerns and priorities with strong conviction, and my goal is always to represent those interests the best I can in Washington. I rely on your feedback, and hope you will consider me a resource on the challenges we face as a state and as a nation.