Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was in Anacostia Thursday to introduce a new bill to tackle youth unemployment.
Although this stop was not officially part of his campaign, Sanders spoke broadly about national unemployment rates and made some of the same arguments he is highlighting on the trail.
Sanders stated that youth unemployment is 17 percent and black youth unemployment is 27 percent, saying "clearly this is unacceptable" and "we don't talk about youth unemployment enough in this country."
"It is no great secret that without work, without education and without hope people get in trouble. That's just a fact," Sanders said while speaking at the H.O.P.E Project in Washington, D.C. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., was also there to present the bill.
The goal of the Employ Young Americans Act is to invest in job creation, job training and in education rather than jails and law enforcement, the lawmakers said. As part of the plan, Sanders outlined $5.5 billion in immediate funding to states and localities throughout the country to employ 1 million young Americans between ages 16-24, providing job training to thousands more.
Under the bill, the U.S. Department of Labor would provide $4 billion in grants to state and local governments to provide summer and year-round employment to disadvantaged youth along with occupational learning. The bill would also provide $1.5 billion in grants for communities to provide work-based training.
When asked where all this money would come from, Sanders' advisers did not have a direct answer, but suggested that the senator would find a way to pass the bill. They also suggested Sanders would be able to accomplish more for unemployed youth if he left the Senate for the presidency.
Sanders communications director Vincent Morris told the Washington Examiner, "It would be very easy to allocate the money by closing tax loopholes for companies that are located offshore."
"If he were president he would obviously be able to do a lot more. He would do everything in his power to pass this legislation through," Morris added.
D.C shadow Sen. Paul Strauss said that it is rare for a U.S. senator to come to Ward Seven of the district.
"Sanders is one of the exceptions. I think Sen. Sanders is very sincere about the issues he's talking about. But, it's a good strategy what he's doing, coming out here," Strauss told the Examiner.
Strauss says that the federal government is investing less in urban issues than previously. While the short-term investment in education may carry a high price tag, he claims it comes with a long-term benefit.
"I think D.C. needs a president who is committed to the unique needs of urban centers, and traditionally Democrats have been more committed to that," Strauss said. "If I'm looking at the field, the Clintons, the Sanders and the O'Malleys seem to be more in touch with our needs than the Ted Cruzs and Huckabees of the race."