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Trump administration backtracks; Montana Job Corps centers to stay open

Posted at 10:48 AM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 12:48:13-04

Two Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers in Montana will remain open — at least for now.

The Job Corps center in Anaconda was one of nine across the country that were slated for closure this fall due to Trump administration budget cuts. 16 other centers, including Trapper Creek outside of Darby, were going to be transferred to private contractors.

Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, provide vocational training in over 30 occupations, including forestry and wildland firefighting, to disadvantaged and low-income young people. The program regularly employs more than 4,000 nationwide at 25 centers around the country and trains them to respond to national emergencies.

Wednesday, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Labor broke news of the reversal  POLITICO, saying all Job Corps centers will now remain open under USDA management.

Montana’s congressional delegation found agreement in lauding Wednesday’s decision, applauding the Trump administration for reconsidering.

“This is a big win for Montana and our country,” said Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican, in a press release sent to MTN News Wednesday. “I’m glad that President Trump, Secretary [of Agriculture] Perdue, and Secretary [of Labor] Acosta listened, and are keeping these critical centers open.”

Daines called the Job Corps centers “critical” to Montana. When the Trump administration had announced the cuts earlier this year, he voiced rare opposition to a decision tangetial to the president and urged reconsideration by Sonny Perdue, the secretary of agriculture, and Alexander Acosta, the secretary of labor.

Sens. Daines and Tester joined Rep. Greg Gianforte in sending a joint bipartisan letter to those officials on June 5 asking for the Job Corps centers to remain open, according to a news release.

Tester took vocal umbrage with the original move.

“Suddenly, without any real reason or justification, the President pulled the plug on one of the most successful initiatives in rural America and my office was flooded with stories and objections from Montanans,” he said in a press release.

“I’ll continue to fight for the hardworking Montanans and businesses that rely on Job Corps centers like Trapper Creek and Anaconda, so we can make sure they’re around for future generations,” he continued. Tester filed a bill as an amendment earlier this week to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would stop closure and prevent private transfer of the Job Corps centers.

The Senate is expected to vote on NDAA, a piece of must-pass defense legislation, within the coming days.

Gianforte said in a press release to MTN News: “I’m thankful the administration responded to our requests and reversed its decision. It’s the right thing to do.”