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Contributed by Tom Netting, Chief Executive Officer, TEN Government Strategies

As previously reported by Advance 360, on May 17th the U.S. House of Representatives deliberated and passed by a vote of 220-196 proposed revisions to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (Public Law 113-128).

On May 23 we provided you with a section-by-section summary of the bill that was negotiated and amended on the House floor, with the commitment that we would provide you with a more in-depth summary of the five amendments that were deliberated, and the details of the revisions contained within the three amendments which were passed as part of the debate. Below is a summary of the floor proceedings, which highlights each of the five amendments, the key components of the three amendments that were adopted, predictable next steps and guesstimates too.

House floor debate on H.R. 7309 – The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022, was basically broken down into a series of five discussions.

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The first – very-limited — discussion was on “An Amendment in the Nature of A Substitute,” offered by House Committee On Education & Labor Chairman Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), which included necessary corrections and edits following House Committee mark-up, as well as several new additions that clarified the funding cap on one-stop infrastructure costs and revised several definitions. In summarizing the bill and nominal changes Chairman Scott noted that this legislation was necessary to address the significant, chronic underinvestment in workforce development and makes changes necessary to modernize and expand education for entire sectors (e.g. electric cars, trucking, and nurses). The edits and revisions were non-controversial, and the amendment was agreed to without objection by the full House without a recorded vote.

The second, twenty-minute debate was on the presentation of En Bloc Amendment No. 1 – a group of eleven individual bipartisan and Democratic amendments that were combined into a single proposal once again offered by E&L Committee Chairman Scott. In summarizing the amendment Chairman Scott stated his belief that it included several commonsense proposals that strengthened the underlying bill – including a number of bipartisan proposals. Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) agreed, noting her support for the amendment because the group of amendments, “better focuses WIOA on in-demand jobs, decreases duplication by encouraging better alignment between K-12 education providers and local workforce development boards, and includes information on entrepreneurship in career and skills development services.”

While encouraging Republicans to support the amendment, Dr. Foxx did express concerns with three specific amendments. Dr. Foxx expressed concerns that:

  • The Gottheimer amendment (#12) reduces the flexibility the workforce system needs to meet the needs of workers;
  • The Harder amendment (#13) will reduce the percentage of funds going to help youth receive the skills they need to enter the workforce; and
  • The Lee amendment (#25) authorizes a duplicative study that would not be a reasonable use of taxpayer funds.

The amendment passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 313-107. (Note: A summary of all eleven amendments and corresponding legislative language is provided here.)

The third, ten-minute debate was on the presentation of En Bloc Amendment No. 2 – consisting of a group of twenty-three individual Democratic amendments that were also combined into a single proposal offered by E&L Committee Chairman Scott. Like En Bloc Amendment No. 1, Chairman Scott stated that these amendments would also strengthen the underlying bill and encouraged the House to vote for the amendment. Unlike the previous package of amendments, Ranking Member Foxx was not in favor of the second set of amendments. In opposing the amendment, Dr. Foxx stated, “This Democratic en bloc creates new programs, authorizes new funding, expands bureaucracy on workforce development boards, imposes new mandates on States and local areas, detracts from skills development services, and transforms WIOA from a workforce program into a welfare program. This laundry list of problems is not what our Nation’s jobseekers need. I cannot agree to saddle employers and workers with new Federal mandates that will make it harder for them to grow the economy and better individual lives.”

The amendment passed by a vote of 222-196. (Note: A summary of the twenty-three amendments and corresponding legislative language is provided here.)

The fourth, ten-minute debate was on the presentation of En Bloc Amendment No. 3 – a group of three individual Republican amendments that were also combined into a single proposal offered by Chairman Scott despite his opposition for the amendment. Following a series of speeches from the authors of the three proposals, Chairman Scott outlined his rationale for opposing the amendments. He stated, “The first strikes language from the bill that prevents non-registered apprenticeships from receiving WIOA funds. If you want to have a non-registered apprenticeship program you can do that, but we ought to fund the registered programs first since they are much better, and we shouldn’t spend money on those non-registered programs. Registered apprenticeship programs are a proven strategy that have demonstrated high-quality training and wage progression across multiple industries. This bill supports efforts to expand registered apprenticeships to additional populations and industries by reserving 50 percent of the funds for programs serving individuals with barriers to employment. Many of my colleagues have opposed the so-called Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, or IRAPs, because that program discards key features that are the cause of success for our registered apprenticeship program, including quality standards, worker protections, national recognition, and the fact that virtually all registered apprenticeship graduates end up in jobs that pay well above the median wage. The second amendment in this en bloc amendment group prohibits WIOA funds from being used to reimburse any healthcare services. I am not sure where they find that physical health is included. Mental health counseling and substance abuse is included as possible funding. The question about whether WIOA will pay for health services is a distraction from the work we are trying to do today, to ensure an equitable recovery, and provide opportunity for economic advancement for all individuals in all communities. This legislation reflects the input from stakeholders across the country who know what it takes to expand access to high-quality job training, career navigation services, and other critical services. The statute has long provided for flexibility for local programs. The statute also allows for the provision of supportive services, such as assistance with transportation, childcare, dependent care, or housing; services that are crucial to facilitating individuals’ ability to participate in WIOA-funded programs. In fact, the legislation specifically ensures that treatment of substance use disorder is a permissible use of supportive services under WIOA. Fundamentally, needs of individuals seeking job training are not always distinct from health needs. These programs should meet people where they are to facilitate full participation to ensure continued and sustained economic success. Updating and improving programs authorized through WIOA, such as the bill we are considering today, will lift up communities and help us achieve that goal. This is what we need to do today by voting “no” on this en bloc amendment and “yes” on the underlying bill.”

The amendment failed by a vote of 194-219.

The final debate was ten-minutes of deliberation on the Republican alternative the Democrats bill offered by Representative Miller-Meeks (R-IL).

The amendment failed by a vote of 174-241.


NOTEWORTHY KEY COMPONENTS

En Bloc Amendment No. 1

  • Bice (R-OK), Jacobs, Sara (D-CA) Amendment: Expands the use of funds in three WIOA programs for public private partnerships to create job training programs for in-demand jobs.
  • Gottheimer (D-NJ) Amendment: Ensures that veterans are eligible for career and training services.
  • Kaptur (D-OH), Kelly, Mike (R-PA), Dingell (D-MI), Ryan (D-OH) Amendment: Directs the Secretary of Labor, in coordination with relevant federal agencies, to conduct a study examining auto mechanic workforce shortage issues, and how Federal agencies are adjusting training programs or providing a higher number of apprenticeships to deal with advanced modern technology in automobiles and EVs.
  • McGovern (D-MA) Amendment: Authorizes the Secretary of Labor to conduct a study on the integration of individuals with creative skillsets into in-demand industry sectors and occupations.
  • Morelle (D-NY) Amendment: Allows workforce development funds to be used to raise awareness about the local workforce system and for the marketing of such system.
  • Phillips (D-MN), Ross (D-NC), Sherrill (D-NJ) Amendment: Includes information on entrepreneurship in career and training services provided by One-Stop Career Centers, which provide various employment services and connects job seekers with relevant trainings and education.

En Bloc Amendment No. 2

  • Bowman (D-NY) Amendment: Ensures State Workforce Development Boards include a youth representative in its membership.
  • Cohen (D-TN) Amendment: Ensures that relevant subject matter experts, professionals, and community leaders may be included as members of local workforce development boards.
  • Horsford (D-NV) Amendment: Directs States to make publicly available performance accountability indicators and performance measures for each recognized postsecondary credential that is obtained by any program participant of a core program; and instructs the Secretaries of Labor and Education to develop and disseminate an objective statistical model based on actual economic conditions in States that will be used to make adjustments in the State adjusted levels of performance.
  • Jackson Lee (D-TX), Adams (D-NC) Amendment: Directs the Secretary to encourage HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities), minority-serving institutions, and Tribally Controlled colleges and institutions to apply for assistance under this Act to provide job skills training and educational services, and to prioritize applications for assistance from such entities.
  • Jayapal (D-WA): Authorizes the Secretary of Labor to conduct a study on the development of career pathways, national training standards, apprenticeship programs, and other workforce development initiatives for domestic workers and how those programs may affect the wages of those workers.
  • Schneider (D-IL) Amendment: Clarifies performance requirements for community colleges to qualify for the strengthening community colleges training grants program and directs the Secretary of Education to provide technical assistance to institutions that do not meet adequate performance levels.
  • Torres, Norma (D-CA) Amendment: Provides workers information on wages, hours, safe working conditions, forming, joining, and assisting a labor organization, and other applicable terms and conditions of employment to any individual that receives training.

What’s Next

The WIOA reauthorization bill now heads over to the Senate, and more specifically the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), for its review and development of either revisions to the House bill or the development of their own comprehensive bill. Early indications from the Senate are, that while reauthorization of WIOA is important, the ability to complete work on this legislation may be tough. There are several other “must pass” bills that are quite frankly a higher political priority for either side of the isle (e.g., America COMPETES, Gun-Control, Foreign-Aid) and that doesn’t include the annual appropriation bills that are supposed to be completed by the end of September. And there are mid-term elections in November that Member of Congress will want to be home campaigning.

All of this to say that the WIOA bill faces an uphill battle to be completed this Congress, but the possibility is there.

Advance 360 Education will continue to monitor the progress, or potential lack thereof, in the weeks and months ahead and will share updates with you periodically.

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Anthony Espinoza // eduinfo@advance360.com // 310 704-5369

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