On July 31, 2013, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a markup of S. 1356, the “Workforce Investment Act of 2013.” This legislation would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which provides funding authority for a variety of workforce training programs.
Outcome of the Markup
The Committee favorably reported the bill out of Committee, and cleared the legislation for Senate Floor consideration, by an 18-3 vote.
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) were the Committee Republicans that voted against the legislation. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) did not vote.
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) expressed concern over program and managerial shortfalls at the Department of Labor that resulted in budget shortfalls for Job Corps. Casey offered an amendment that would require additional periodic reporting from management of Job Corps that he suggested would improve transparency and oversight of the program. Casey said that the amendment that he was offering was developed in conjunction with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
Amendment agreed to by voice vote
Several Senators used the markup as an opportunity to speak on the record in favor of amendments that they had chosen to withdraw. These Senators chose instead to pledge to work with Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) in adding the provisions of these amendments to the bill once it reached the Senate Floor, potentially through a manager’s amendment.
Senator Casey expressed support for a “sectors amendment” that would help to provide support for industries that are critical to the U.S. economy, such as manufacturing, information technology, and health care. He said that the amendment would aid in training for positions in these specific sectors where industry currently experienced difficulties in finding adequately trained workers to fill available positions.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) urged colleagues to consider a future amendment that would address business set-aside rules for current contractors in Job Corps. He said that his amendment would allow for existing contractors to continue to bid on contracts to operate Job Corps centers.
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said that she looks forward to offering an amendment on the Senate Floor that would address long-term unemployment. She said that as the Committee brings the bill to the Floor, it will be important to increase focus on improving training for the long-term unemployed.
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) expressed hope that the bill would later be altered to include an amendment that would allow States to voluntarily establish pay-for-performance measures for job training programs that would help ensure better targeting of funding to programs that have proven to be the most successful.