House passes Perkins reauthorization bill

By Katie Spiker, June 23, 2017

Earlier today, the House passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act of 2017, which would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The bill was passed out of committee on May 17, by a unanimous vote.

The bill is very similar to the reauthorization bill passed by the House last September – also with overwhelming bipartisan support – and is generally consistent with NSC’s reauthorization priorities, including requirements for closer alignment of postsecondary performance indicators with the core performance indicators under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and requirements that state Perkins plans describe how CTE programs fit within the state’s broader vision and strategy for preparing an educated and skilled workforce. The bill would also adopt several key WIOA definitions, including recognized postsecondary credentials, industry or sector partnerships, and career pathways.

Despite strong support for the House bill, the prospects for Senate action are uncertain. The Senate did not take up the House bill last year and was unable to reach agreement on their own proposal, in large part because of partisan disagreements about the Secretary of Education’s oversight role in CTE programs.   

The reauthorization effort comes against the backdrop of larger political discussions around the future of federal skills investments; in addition to other proposed cuts, President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request included a proposed reduction of $168 million for Perkins state grant – a cut of 15 percent against current funding levels.  Congressional action on the underlying law sends a clear signal about the importance of continued federal support for key education and workforce programs, and gives advocates in the field an opportunity to weigh in with policymakers about how these programs help jobseekers and businesses in their communities.

National Skills Coalition applauds the House passage of HR 2353, and we look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to advance this legislation in the coming months.