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Minority Party Representatives Walk Out of Workforce Training Bill Debate and Vote

Posted on 03/06/2013


House Education and the Workforce Committee Democrats walked out of a committee debate and vote on a Republican sponsored bill to rewrite the Workforce Investment Act today. The bill is expected to go to the House floor next week having passed the committee on a 23-0 vote.

The Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803), authored by Representative Virgina Foxx (R-NC), would reauthorize the Clinton-era Workforce Investment Act by consolidating 35 federal job-training programs into a single block grant. Democrats and advocacy groups say the consolidation goes too far and eliminates programs without having them go through an independent evaluation.

According to a statement External link opens in new window or tab released by Representatives John Tierney (D-MA), Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) and George Miller (D-Calif.), boycotting the proceedings was the "only alternative after many months of repeatedly requesting bipartisan negotiations and being rebuffed." The bill being offered by the Republicans on the committee "has scant support and has garnered significant opposition," say committee Democrats.

In a letter External link opens in new window or tab to Education and Workforce Committee Chair, Rep. John Kline and Higher Education and Rep. Foxx, Reps. Tierney, Hinojosa and Miller asked for cancellation of today's markup. They expressed continued "concerns" about the bill's impact on the workforce investment system. "The bill," they said, "puts at risk services for disadvantaged populations," and "jeopardizes the voices of many key stakeholders." They requested a "robust and meaningful schedule for Member-to-Member negotiations on the Workforce Investment Act reauthorization."

For more:
Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats External link opens in new window or tab
Letter to Chairmen Kline and Foxx External link opens in new window or tab
The Hill External link opens in new window or tab

Adobe Reader External link opens in new window or tab for PDF files.