Rush hails energy jobs training bill; promises Hyde Park town hall

By AARON GETTINGER
Staff Writer

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st) is very glad the Democrats are back in the majority. He is now the second-most senior Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and he thinks his service has led to tangible benefits to the district, which encompasses swaths of the South Side and the Southland.

“One of the things that we’re currently working on is an energy workforce development bill that we’ve actually passed in the past three congresses, but it has not passed the Senate,” he said. The 21st Century Workforce bill, due to be reintroduced, “is a multimillion-dollar training initiative that will train minorities [and] displaced workers in rural areas for currently existing jobs in the energy sector, and it will provide grants and financial assistance packages for the universities, colleges, HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities], community colleges and community organizations.

“It will provide grants for these entities to train unemployed workers and displaced workers for jobs involved in the front section of the energy sector,” Rush said. “There are hundreds of thousands of jobs that are in need of workers, but they don’t have the appropriate training.”

In an emailed statement, Rush’s office said that the legislation will “more fully engage Department of Energy Programs and national laboratories in order to carry out the Department’s workforce development initiatives” and develop job training programs “in a wide array of sectors, including renewables, energy efficiency, oil and gas, coal, nuclear, utility, pipeline, alternative fuels, as well as energy-intensive and advanced manufacturing industries.”

Asked if he would hold any town hall meetings in Hyde Park–Kenwood — the 1st District covers all parts of Hyde Park west of the commuter and freight railroads — he said he thinks he will “sometime after the weather breaks.”

“I love Hyde Park,” Rush said. “I love my constituents in Hyde Park. I always get a lot of support out of Hyde Park, and I’ll probably have the first one in Hyde Park.”

Rush recently endorsed former White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Commerce Bill Daley, whose brother and father both were mayor of Chicago, in the coming mayoral election.

“In life, you only have your relationships with people to guide you along, that you have to use as the foundation for any decision. I’ve known Bill Daley over the years, beginning all the way back to the Clinton administration, and we’ve always had a very warm, cordial and respectful relationship,” he said.

“We haven’t agreed on everything, but he’s a person who really cares about the City of Chicago. Because of the wide breadth of experiences at the national and international level, I thought that those experiences and those contacts that he has, that that would serve him well as mayor,” he said. “We got to have a broad reach to bring jobs, corporations and businesses into our community. I think that throughout my years and my relationship with Bill Daley, I know one outstanding characteristic, that I know that he’s always able to listen to input, to new ideals and new ways of thinking about a particular issue.

And it comes as no surprise that Rush did not care for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address. “I thought it was an hour and a half …of tortuous nonsense,” he said.

a.gettinger@hpherald.com