Harkin offers Labor-H funding amendment to CR.

March 14, 2013


On March 13, Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations (Labor-H) subcommittee chairman Senator Harkin (D-IA) offered a full Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Labor-H Appropriations bill as an amendment to the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 that would set explicit funding levels for programs that fall under the Labor-H subcommittee’s jurisdiction for the remainder of the fiscal year.  

The government is currently operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that is set to expire on March 27.  The existing CR set funding at $1.047 trillion as specified by the caps set under the Budget Control Act (BCA), subject to the sequester that kicked in March 1 – which would bring the spending down to roughly $984 billion. Under the CR, existing Labor-H funding and policy would simply carry over from FY 2012 (adjusted for the sequester).

Senator Harkin’s amendment would make several improvements to current law.  The amendment provides for a $14 million increase in funding for the Wagner-Peyser Employment Service, as well as an increase in the statewide set-aside under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) from 5 percent to 10 percent which will help states that had been using these funds to support innovative strategies like career pathways and sector partnerships.  

The amendment would also provide for the partial reinstatement of the Ability to Benefit (ATB) provisions of the Higher Education Act.  The ATB provisions – which allow students who have demonstrated college readiness but lack a high-school diploma or equivalent to access federal financial aid – were previously eliminated as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2012.  This amendment would restore the ATB provisions for students who are co-enrolled in Adult and Postsecondary Education courses, as part of a Career Pathways program. 

National Skills Coalition supports Senator Harkin’s efforts to make improvements to Labor-H funded programs.  On March 13, NSC wrote to Senator Harkin offering support for his amendment.  NSC also joined with nearly 20 other organizations to offer support for the ATB provision of the amendment.  

The amendment failed to garner the 60 votes it needed for adoption – it failed 54-45 – so the improvements it made to the underlying bill will not be included in the final text.  The Senate is likely to vote on and is expected to pass the underlying bill today.

NSC will provide additional information on the CR as it becomes available.