Legislative Update: House Advances WIOA Proposal

This week the House Education and Labor Committee marked up legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) while the Senate considers additional pandemic aid legislation with implications for postsecondary institutions. In addition, Advance CTE continues to encourage its members and partners to support legislation to improve learner access to Pell Grants for high-quality, short-term postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Finally, be sure to encourage your Senators and Representatives to join the House and Senate CTE Caucuses if they have not already done so! 

House Democrats Release WIOA Reauthorization Proposal 

Since last spring, Congressional lawmakers have been considering and debating making updates to WIOA– federal legislation that funds the nation’s workforce development system. Last week, Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee released a comprehensive proposal to reauthorize this law dubbed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022 (H.R. 7309). On Tuesday, April 5, the committee held a hearing to markup this legislation, considering and debating amendments to this proposal. An updated version of the legislation, known as an amendment in the nature of a substitute (ANS), was considered and ultimately adopted by the committee along party lines. This ANS made several small changes to the underlying legislation first released last week, including by adding digital literacy efforts as an allowable usage of WIOA youth funding. 

Broadly, Democrats were supportive of H.R. 7309 and highlighted aspects of the proposal that they either directly sponsored or generally supported. Republicans were broadly unsupportive of the proposed legislation, instead favoring a separate ANS proposal put forward by Rep. Miller-Meeks (R-IA). Republicans on the committee proposed several amendments to H.R. 7309, including this alternative proposal, which were all defeated along party lines. Following several hours of debate, the Committee passed H.R. 7309 by a margin of 29-21. This vote advances the legislation out of committee for further consideration by the full House chamber with a floor vote tentatively expected later this spring. 

Ahead of the markup, Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) sent a letter to the committee, applauding certain aspects of the legislation, particularly the bill’s approach to the sharing of one-stop center infrastructure costs. The letter went on to note that work lies ahead to further refine and improve on this proposal. Despite the encouraging progress on WIOA taking place in the House, it remains unclear whether comparable activity will commence in the Senate. As these efforts continue to unfold, Advance CTE and its partners will continue to work with lawmakers to make updates to this important law aligned with the organization’s newly updated recommendations for this legislation. 

Lawmakers Consider Higher Education Recission

For the last few months, Congress and the Biden Administration have been grappling with how to pass additional legislation to fund pandemic response activities, such as the purchasing of testing kits, vaccines and additional therapeutics. Broadly, Republicans and Democrats have continued to disagree on how to pay for this supplemental funding package. Recently, a group of Senators has coalesced around a $10 billion package for this purpose. However, as part of this emerging agreement, Republicans have insisted that this be paid for using unspent pandemic aid dollars. Nearly $500 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief funds (HEERF) would likely be used to defray some of the total $10 billion cost of the package. A summary of the agreement can be found here. A timeline for the advancement and passage of this legislation remains unclear.  

Lend Your Support to Pell Grant Modernization 

Advance CTE and its partners have continued to advocate for the enactment of the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act – legislation that would make long-overdue improvements to the federal Pell Grant program by expanding eligibility for high-quality shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs. As lawmakers continue to negotiate and craft forthcoming legislation to improve the competitiveness of the American economy, this reform would drastically enhance the nation’s ability to provide pathways for workers and learners to earn valuable postsecondary credentials needed in today’s economy. 

To help ensure lawmakers understand the importance of this legislation and the role it has in ensuring American global economic competitiveness, Advance CTE encourages state and local CTE affiliates, especially nonprofit CTE institutions, to sign-on in support of this letter ahead of anticipated legislative action later this year. 

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks to join their respective CTE Caucuses, if they have not done so already. To find out if your Members of Congress have joined their respective Caucus, you can review House and Senate membership lists. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.