House Moves Forward with Workforce Reauthorization Bills; New CLASP Analyses

May 01, 2012

House Republicans and Democrats have introduced competing bills to reform 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 Republican bill (H.R. 4297 - sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx, Rep. Joseph J. Heck and Rep. Howard P. McKeon) would consolidate 27 federal programs into a single block grant called the Workforce Investment Fund. It also allows governors to consolidate funds from additional programs, including adult education, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Trade Adjustment Assistance and vocational rehabilitation, into the block grant and use those dollars for a wide range of services, activities and populations. Moreover, H.R. 4297 repeals a number of programs, including Job Corps and other nationally administered programs.

By contrast, the House Democratic bill (H.R. 4227 - sponsored by Rep. John Tierney, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa and Rep. George Miller) would require states to streamline and coordinate the use of workforce and education programs through unified planning. The bill also expands the range of training options available for disadvantaged individuals, modernizes the adult education system to meet the postsecondary and employment needs of students, and expands priority of service for out-of-school youth. In addition, H.R. 4227 authorizes a national Workforce and Youth Innovation Fund to support the development and expansion of promising workforce strategies, such as career pathways, industry partnerships, and dropout recovery and re-engagement.

As the economic recovery continues, federal workforce programs are helping millions of unemployed workers, low-income adults and disadvantaged youth find jobs, prepare for work and build skills needed for emerging employment opportunities. CLASP recommends that any reauthorization bill should focus on raising the skills of the American workforce and making these programs work better for low-income, low-skilled individuals and employers.

To help advocates and stakeholders, CLASP has prepared analyses of H.R. 4297 and H.R. 4227.

Additional Resources:

The House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing on April 17 to consider H.R. 4297. The next step is a committee mark-up of the bill, which has not yet been scheduled.

CLASP will continue to update this post and its analyses as the bills move through the House.

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