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WIA Reauthorization Bill Moves Forward

Posted on 06/19/2012


On Thursday, June 7, the House Education and the Workforce Committee met to mark up and amend the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012, H.R. 4297. Overall, this bill consolidates 25 workforce training programs that have been identified as duplicative and ineffective into a single $6 billion Workforce Investment Fund that provides flexibility for states to determine the best use of funds.

The Workforce Investment Fund would provide for a broad set of general workforce activities, including job seeking services, without requiring states to use the funding for adult education and literacy services. According to the National Coalition for Literacy (NCL) (www) "It could result in significantly fewer resources for adult education programs, with no assurance that adult learners with low basic skills would be served."

An alternative version (H.R. 4227) was offered during the mark up on H.R. 4297. According to NCL the alternative version, "maintains set asides for disadvantaged populations; continues to provide supported, integrated employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities; and, while it makes minor consolidations, keeps the nationally effective individual programs funded. Such stark philosophical differences between the two bills made the markup debate lively as well as lengthy." In the end, the original bill was passed with no changes to adult education.

The bill will now go to the full House for consideration. Since WIA reauthorization is a priority for House Leadership, some analysts believe a floor vote may take place this summer.

Meanwhile, the Senate is working on their version of WIA reauthorization. On Thursday, June 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS-ED) approved its FY 2013 appropriations bill which provides federal funding for adult education. State Grants and National Leadership Activities are level-funded in the bill, which includes a Workforce Investment Fund funded through the Department of Labor.

The House Appropriations Committee may markup their version of the LHHS-ED appropriations bill as early as next week.

The Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL) does not anticipate quick action on reauthorization. "The bottom line is that WIA will probably still be pending in 2013," CAAL wrote in an e-mail this week.

Sources: Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL), CLASP (www), National Coalition for Literacy (NCL) (www), National Skills Coalition (www).