Senate Continues To Delay Action On Workforce Consolidation Bill
By Mindy Feldbaum
With very few legislative days left in the current Congressional session, the Senate has yet to take action on its workforce consolidation bill, "The Workforce Investment Partnership Act of 1997" (S.1116). Senate leaders continue to work on the legislation to resolve a few remaining issues and are cautiously optimistic that the measure could be brought to the floor before Congress adjourns.
The State and Local Coalition, which includes the Conference of Mayors, National Governors' Association, National Association of Counties, National Conference of State Legislatures and the National League of Cities, has been meeting with the Departments of Education and Labor and Congressional staff to sort out a few issues in the legislation that are important to the Coalition. The Coalition continues to support "significant consolidation" and is working to preserve the provisions of Title V of the bill. Title V permits states to consolidate programs including vocational education at the state level through a voluntary unified planning process. Critics of the unified plan include Senator Edward Kennedy (MA) and a group of 19 national education associations. In addition, the Coalition has concerns about the strict accountability measures in the bill.
Congress is now expected to stay in session an extra week. If the workforce bill is not on the Senate floor in the coming week, it will most likely be one of the first bills considered next year.
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