Lawmakers Seek to Establish ‘Office of Young Americans’

‘We need to change the structure to make it easier for young people to work with the executive branch,’ says bill’s sponsor.

WASHINGTON–Young political activists on June 11 joined Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) in supporting a bill to create a department in the executive branch to amplify youth voices in government.

“We need to change the structure and make it easier for young people to work with the executive branch,” Mr. Soto, the bill’s sponsor, said at a Capitol Hill press conference.

“We need more folks’ input … so we get more policies that are reflective of the majority of Americans, including young Americans’ perspectives.”

HR 4444 would establish the Office of Young Americans to address progressive issues related to American youth. The bill is a brainchild of the Future Forum Caucus, a group of younger Democrat lawmakers who are seeking to increase youth engagement in government.

Along with Mr. Soto, the bill’s sponsors are Co-Chairs Reps. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), Brittany Pettersen (D-Colo.), and caucus member Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif. ). The bill was first introduced in June 2023 but has remained in committee.

Mr. Soto was joined by leaders from youth groups such as YouthinGov, Voto Latino, and the anti-gun violence group Team Enough.

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The group leaders spoke in turn, expressing hope that issues such as climate change, abortion access, student loan forgiveness, and affordable healthcare would be prioritized.

Ayaan Moledina, federal policy director of Students Engaged in Advancing Texas, said mental health and youth suicide were among the top priorities he’d like the new office to address.

“One of the things we work on is expanding suicide prevention resources, 988 [suicide hotline] awareness to schools, putting them on the backs of student IDs, things like that.”

Mr. Moledina also said he hoped to address LGBT issues and “menstrual rights,” which would include having sanitary napkins available in all bathrooms. “Texas is on the frontline of those attacks, where far-right extremists are attempting to come after transgender students just for going to the bathroom,” he said.

Mr. Soto said YouthinGov is helping to spearhead the project but that the president would ultimately choose the leader of the new department.

“Obviously, it would be beneficial to have someone who is fairly young to be the director—both for life experience and as someone who young people can trust and feel is accessible and has an understanding of their views.”

One of his legislative goals was to ensure bipartisan support for the bill, said Mr. Soto, adding that the youth activists were speaking to members of Congress to round up more support.

He also said he would be “working the floor” himself to drum up support for the bill.

“Anything that costs money is going to have some pushback,” he said. “So obviously, we’ll have to work through the appropriations process to get steady funding.”

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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