Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, both D-Delaware, joined their Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to Acting Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella opposing the Donald Trump administration’s recent proposal to undermine the highly effective and widely supported registered apprenticeship program.

The proposed rule would create duplicative, unnecessary and lower-quality “industry-recognized apprenticeship programs” that would not provide the same crucial benefits and protections as long-established registered apprenticeships. The administration has also proposed the establishment of new “standard recognition entities” to oversee the IRAPs, allowing these programs to potentially evade accountability, even to apprentices themselves.

“Rather than invest federal taxpayer dollars in a duplicative, less rigorous and unproven model of workforce training with little to no accountability, the department and the Trump administration should work with Congress and stakeholders to strengthen and modernize the registered apprenticeship system to build more pathways for workers to enter middle class jobs,” wrote the senators.

The senators also questioned whether the proposed rule is truly consistent with National Apprenticeship Act, which entrusted the Labor Department to “safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of apprentices.” In February, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, and her colleagues pressed the Department of Labor for answers on the proposed rule and raised questions about whether the Department was using funds appropriated by Congress for registered apprenticeships for IRAPs.

The full text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2PidEBr.