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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

House Passes Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization

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March 15, 2013

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House Passes Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization

The House of Representatives voted this morning to pass the Strengthening Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act. The final bill contains several controversial measures, including consolidating 35 workforce training programs into a single block grant controlled by state governors and eliminating all required representation on workforce boards except for business. The SKILLS Act also allows for the direct contracting of training services with community colleges and establishing common performance measures across the workforce system.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), stated during the final debate “the state of today’s workforce system is unmanageable” and the SKILLS Act would allow state and local leaders and workforce boards to be “much better informed and equipped to serve the needs of local job seekers.”

Before voting on the final bill, Members of the House were allowed to submit final amendments to the bill. Three amendments were adopted by a voice vote, including amendments for advanced manufacturing for veterans; funding set asides for native Americans, Hawaiians and Alaskans; and the addition of an application process for local areas to apply for recognition by the state workforce board.

The House Democrats also submitted an amendment to substitute the entirety of the SKILLS Act with the Democrats Workforce Investment Act reauthorization bill. The substitute was the only amendment to receive a recorded vote, and failed by a vote of 192-227.

Although the SKILLS Act passed the House, it is highly unlikely that it will be brought up for consideration in the Senate . Instead, the Senate may choose to draft its own version of a Workforce Investment Act reauthorization, which, if passed by the Senate, will need to be reconciled with the SKILLS Act to create a compromise bill.

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