With all the political games taking place in Washington, I know West Virginians are losing confidence because they believe that no one Democrat or Republican intends to pass anything. But I didn't go to Washington to be part of the problem or to play blame games, I went to be part of the solution.
So this week, I was proud to travel around West Virginia focusing on "Commonsense Ideas for a Stronger America." Since I've been in the Senate, West Virginians have supplied me with their commonsense ideas, priorities and concerns and this week was no exception. With the help of West Virginians, I unveiled the best ideas I've seen to protect and create jobs without adding to our growing deficits and debts.
I kicked off the week by introducing the Rebuild America Jobs Act, a bill that would finally make a substantial, $60 billion investment in a true job creator: rebuilding our roads and bridges. I've been calling for infrastructure investments since before the people of West Virginia sent me to Washington, which is why I am so pleased to sponsor this bill with the support of several other Senators.
The bill would invest $50 billion in our roads, bridges and air traffic infrastructure. There's no question about it building infrastructure here at home creates jobs here at home. In fact, Moody's estimates that for every $1 spent on infrastructure, GDP is raised by about $1.59. In addition, according to the Labor Department, the greatest percentage of West Virginians making unemployment insurance claims are from the construction industry with 19.8 percent of all the claims coming from unemployed construction workers. Those hard workers need to get back on the job, and investing in our future is the way to do it.
I also visited Parkersburg South High School and Parkersburg High School this week to talk to students about the need to take their education seriously and prepare themselves to compete for jobs in a tough economy. In Fairmont, I helped break ground on a new retraining facility: the North Central Advanced Technology Center, a 55,000-square foot facility devoted to delivering technical training to West Virginia's students with the goal of preparing the state's workforce for challenging jobs that will move the economy forward.
With more than 3 million American jobs going unfilled and with unemployment nationwide stuck at about 9.1 percent, I truly believe the most compassionate thing we can do right now for the unemployed is encourage Americans get the skills they need to get a new job skills that can be learned at facilities like the North Central Advanced Technology Center. That is why I unveiled my Retrain for Work Act this week, which would tie our unemployment insurance extensions to job retraining requirements.
That's not all I discussed this week. The problem of drug abuse is devastating our towns and our workforce, so this week I hosted a roundtable to discuss solutions, bringing together folks on all sides of the issue treatment, education, law enforcement, prevention, business and labor. We all agree that drug abuse is one of the biggest problems plaguing our communities and our nation, and that this national epidemic requires immediate action like my bipartisan bill to crack down on the so-called "pill mill" operators who flood our state with prescription drugs.
I ended the week with a focus on creating energy jobs by working to achieve energy independence within this generation and get out from under the onerous regulations that have been issued by the EPA. The EPA is pursuing a war on coal that is killing jobs in our region and will make electricity more expensive for millions of families in this country. We have to take advantage of all our domestic resources if we want to end our dependence on foreign oil and we must rein in the EPA. In Morgantown, I spoke about the need to develop the Marcellus Shale safely and responsibly in our own state, without the EPA overstepping its bounds.
Time and again this week, West Virginians told me that they are looking to those of us in Washington to do what is right for this country. It is time for us to stop with the bickering, and remember one thing we may be members of different political parties, but we are all party to this great nation. We are all Americans.
Let's work together on making America's future brighter not for us but for the next generation.