As many of you who follow my blog know, ASTD has been advocating and stressing to members of Congress and their staffs the past few years of the importance of reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Originally passed in 1998 (pre-Google), it is in dire need of updating, revamping and refocusing the activities of the workforce system to ensure that people are trained in the skills needed by employers.
The last two Congressional sessions started with promising outlooks, but they ended in no reauthorized bill. In January of this year, there was a renewed optimism and enthusiasm (especially in the Senate) for something significant to be achieved in this bill.
Earlier this year, ASTD went up to the Hill with a group of ASTD's Policy Council members to meet with senior staff of the Senate Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions committee (HELP). Staff was interested in hearing from employers who had used the public system and wanted their feedback on a possible reauthorized bill. We had a great meeting; and the feedback was that sometime this summer, the Senate would submit a bill in the committee and hopefully to the floor of the Senate.
Also earlier this summer, ASTD met with staff on the House Education and the Workforce committee on WIA reauthorization and other training related legislation in the House. Although it appears that the House is also willing to reauthorize WIA, they would take a different approach. If both bills were passed each part of Congress, this would lead to a conference committee situation to work out the differences on the bills.
In July, the Senate HELP committee scheduled a full committee hearing to "mark-up" a reauthorized bill. This is the process by which the committee moves through the contents of a bill, debating and voting on amendments to its provisions by revising, adding or subtracting language prior to ordering the measure reported out (voted on) the to the full Senate for a vote. Although this committee meeting was moved several times this summer due to the debt limit debates, it appears to have moved off the committee's calendar for now.
ASTD will continue to monitor WIA activities in the House and Senate and will continue to update members in this blog post. Chapter Leaders who are coming to ALC and who sign up for Congressional Conversations will be joining us back on Capitol Hill. We will be talking to members of Congress and their staff on WIA and other training related legislation. If you're a Chapter leader, please consider joining us for this event!