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The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will mark up legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) on Wednesday, July 31 at 10:00am.
The Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356) was drafted on a bipartisan basis by Senators Murray (D-WA) and Isakson (R-GA), who is Ranking Member of the Employment and Workplace Safety subcommittee. HELP committee Chairman Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Alexander (R-TN) negotiated the title on vocational rehabilitation separately from the rest of the bill. All four members co-sponsored the bill when it was introduced last week.
The Senate WIA bill closely resembles a discussion draft circulated by the HELP committee in 2011. The 2011 discussion draft was the product of a two-year bipartisan effort to renew and improve the nation’s primary workforce development system. Following the release of the discussion draft, NSC submitted detailed recommendations on ways to improve the proposed legislation. Although a markup of the bill was scheduled, the committee was ultimately unable to reach a bipartisan agreement on how to proceed and the process stalled.
Earlier this year, the House passed the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803), WIA reauthorization legislation. The SKILLS Act would consolidate 35 existing programs into a single Workforce Investment Fund. NSC opposed the House bill because it fails to enact real reforms to improve the quality of our nation’s federal workforce development programs, and in many instances, will make it more difficult for jobseekers to connect to the labor market and for employers to access the skilled workers they need.
Although the Senate bill in its current form does not include language on program consolidation, NSC expects an amended version of the bill that addresses consolidation will be introduced at the beginning of the markup.
Last authorized in 1998, WIA is now ten years overdue for reauthorization. NSC will continue to provide updates on the Senate markup as well as other developments regarding the overhaul of the nation’s workforce system.