Cochran presses for progress on rebuilding Gulfport Job Corps

 Sen. Thad Cochran

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, continues his push for the U.S. Department of Labor to make faster progress on restoring the Gulfport Jobs Corps Center that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Cochran on Thursday questioned Labor Secretary Thomas Perez at a Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to review the fiscal year 2017 budget request for the Labor Department. Cochran serves as a senior member of that subcommittee.

"I am encouraged by some of the progress that is being made on rebuilding the Gulfport Job Corps Center, and hope the Labor Department will remain diligent and committed to ensuring that the center is fully rebuilt in a timely manner," Cochran said following the hearing. "This project has been hanging out here for 10 years, I'm going to keep bringing it up again until I wear it out."

Perez testified that progress is ongoing regarding structural and environmental reviews of the 33rd Street Avenue High School site, but acknowledged more time is required to work through various pre-construction requirements.

"Your dogged persistence on this is something we very much appreciate," Perez told Cochran at the hearing. "This shouldn't take this long, I know. But when we're talking about local processes and compliance with a bunch of different state, federal, local provisions, and then listening to the community, which is obviously very important, it takes the amount of time that it has."

Last years Cochran included a provision in a fiscal year 2016 appropriations measure that required the Department of Labor to submit a report of the steps it was taking to rebuild the Gulfport Job Corps Center. Since that time, the Department has renewed its focus on the matter and incremental progress has been made.