[UPDATE (6:30): The U.S. House of Representatives passed the workforce development bill Wednesday evening by a wide bipartisan margin of 415-6.]
After an hour-long, congenial discussion over the bipartisan workforce development bill, which was really more like a back-slapping session than an actual debate, the U.S. House of Representatives is slated to pass the measure Wednesday afternoon.
The bill will be considered under suspension of the rules and is set to garner widespread support from members on both sides of the aisle. It will then head to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.
In opening remarks, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., and chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, profusely thanked his committee members, including top Democrat Rep. George Miller of California, as well as his counterparts on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, all of whom collaborated on the bill.
The Senate passed the bipartisan measure in June.
While the bill largely focuses on workforce training issues and adult education, it includes a few important provisions for the K-12 space.
For starters, the bill would help students who have been in special education transition into the workforce and postsecondary education. It would also continue federal investments in a handful of programs that serve K-12 students, including youths who have dropped out of school and are seeking workforce skills.
It should be noted that at least three of those programs were slated for elimination or consolidation in an earlier Republican version of the bill that was approved on a largely partisan vote by the House last year.
“Is this a perfect solution?” Kline asked during his debate time. “No, it’s not. In some areas I wish we could have done more. But will this agreement protect taxpayers and deliver the kind of employment support workers need to get back on their feet? I believe it will, and urge my colleagues to support it.”
Pending House passage and the president’s signature, the workforce training bill will likely be the last significant piece of legislation that both Miller and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and HELP chairman, play a major role in crafting. The two education advocates are retiring at the end of this year.
The workforce development bill is set to the be the first to break the education legislation logjam. A House-passed charter school bill and resaerch bill, and Senate-passed child-care bill are also in the pipeline.