House Advances Workforce Reauthorization Bill

Jun 12, 2012

Late last week the House Education and Workforce Committee voted along party lines to adopt a bill that reforms a range of federal workforce programs, including the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). This House action is the first significant push to reauthorize WIA since the Senate’s effort to craft a bipartisan bill during 2011.

The House bill (H.R. 4297) consolidates nearly two dozen federal programs into a single block grant called the Workforce Investment Fund without maintaining a priority of service for low-income individuals or other safeguards. It also gives governors the option to consolidate funds from additional programs, including adult education, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Trade Adjustment Assistance and vocational rehabilitation, into the block grant. If this option is adopted, funds could be diverted from existing programs serving unemployed workers, individuals with low education and skill levels and those who are low-income.

During the mark-up session, members on both sides of the aisle offered amendments to restore programs and safeguards for disadvantaged adults and youth that had been eliminated in the original bill. For example, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa attempted to restore the priority of service for low-income adults and existing provisions for supportive services and needs-related payments, but this amendment failed in a recorded vote. A number of amendments related to youth were also offered.

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