Defense-Training Bill Clears Panels; House Floor Vote Expected Soon
Washington--Members of the House Education and Labor Committee last week gave unanimous approval, after making some minor revisions, to a bill that would re the Defense Production Act of 1950 and would add a new provision to assist states in training workers for defense-related industries, which currently face manpower shortages.
The committee's endorsement means that HR 5540, the "Defense Industrial Base Revitalization Act," could be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives in the near future, although a date has not yet been scheduled for such a vote. The current law will expire on Sept. 30.
Amendment Narrowly Defeated
During last week's hearing, the committee members narrowly defeated an amendment to revise the formula by which states would receive a portion of the $1.25 billion authorized under the proposed measure to establish skills-training programs for a five-year period. An amendment offered by Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, but defeated in a 10-11 vote, would have required that states provide in each year of the five-year program 50 percent of the funding which would be administered by "state boards of vocational education."
Under the proposed amendment, a state also would have been required to obtain 25 percent of its share from local industry and labor groups. Representative Miller said, "if we're to have private-sector involvement and change federal direction, we're going to have to require" that states obtain other than federal and state financial support for the program. Such a provision, he said, would "create a real partnership between the public and private sectors."
Also under the defeated amendment, 20 percent (or $50 million) of the annual budget of $250 million would have been "set aside" to aid those states that were unable to provide matching funds because of severe economic problems.
According to a spokesman in Representative Miller's office, the amendment could be re-introduced when the bill is brought to the House floor for a vote.
"We haven't ruled out that possibility," he said.
The measure the committee approved would require that the states provide 10 percent of the program's cost in the first year and increase their share by an additional 10 percent in each subsequent year. In the fifth year, the states would be required to provide 50 percent of the program's cost.
Earlier this month, members of the House Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs also endorsed the bill, which was introduced Feb. 10 by Representative James J. Blanchard, Democrat of Michigan, and Representative Stewart B. McKinney, Republican of Connecticut.--S.G.F.