Congress is off for the Christmas holidays, but when lawmakers come back some will be laboring on a newly renamed committee.
It’s the Education and the Workforce Committee, previously known in the just-concluded Congress as the Education and Labor Committee.
Republicans are planning the name change, and it isn’t the first. For years, the committee was called Education and Labor. But when Newt Gingrich and the Republicans took over the House in 1994, they wanted to show that there was a new sheriff in town—and he was not a pro-labor sheriff.
So they changed the name to the Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities. Unfortunately, no one knew what that meant, nor could anyone remember the name. So it was soon changed to Education and the Workforce.
“Workforce” is a term employers are likely to use, while “labor” is more evocative of the union movement—after all, they call it the American Federation of Labor. So when the Democrats recaptured the House in 2006, they changed the name of the committee back.
Now it’s the Republicans’ turn to control the House. And they’re changing the name back to Workforce.