Legislative Update: House, Senate and Administration Support for $100 Billion in Workforce Investment


Legislative Update: House, Senate and Administration Support for $100 Billion in Workforce Investment

This week, the House Education and Labor Committee held a press conference calling for a $100 billion federal investment in workforce programs. Read below to learn more about the outlook for this investment, as well as a House letter in support of workforce funding, a bicameral bill to close the homework gap, the newest approved stimulus funding plans and Senate letter in support of educator investments. 
House Education and Labor Committee Holds Press Conference on Workforce Investments
Written by Jori Houck, Media Relations and Advocacy Associate, Associate for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here
On July 22, the House Education and Labor Committee held a press conference featuring Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), manufacturing business owner Traci Tapani of Wyoming Machine and National Skills Coalition Executive Director Andy Van Kleunen to express the urgent need to include the $100 billion investment in workforce development laid out in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan proposal as a part of the upcoming reconciliation package.
Chairman Scott noted that workforce development programs have not been properly funded, particularly in any of the pandemic-related stimulus packages, and workers are seeking the skills necessary to be competitive in the workforce. Adding to Chairman Scott’s observations, Secretary Walsh expressed that Career Technical Education (CTE) is an area of priority – 22 million jobs have been lost to the pandemic, and the country is falling behind the pace of change in the workforce. 
Education Deputy Secretary Marten identified CTE as providing critically important opportunities for students and noted that the $10 billion in CTE investments proposed by the Biden Administration will help scale best practices, provide an evidence base for successful CTE programs and support middle and high school career pathways. Marten also cited statistics showing CTE enrollment leads to higher high school graduation rates, increased college enrollment and higher earnings gains. 
Secretary Walsh, Deputy Secretary Marten, Senator Klobuchar and Representative Bonamici each emphasized the importance of apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships and work-based learning. Bonamici highlighted the need to invest in traditionally underinvested workers; Klobuchar drew attention to the fact that every dollar spent on apprenticeships in Minnesota will increase the state’s GDP by $20. 
Bringing the business-owner perspective, Traci Tapani of Minnesota-based Wyoming Machine celebrated the skilled workers who helped the country during the pandemic, but cautioned that the country cannot forget their efforts, and labor shortages have gotten progressively worse for the last decade. Equity efforts are also an area of need, according to Tapani. 
Van Kleunen called on Congress not to negotiate away the $100 billion investment in workforce training originally included in the Administration’s American Jobs Plan (AJP) to help provide those most impacted by the pandemic a chance at a fulfilling career. Citing a figure that 89% of voting Americans think that Congress needs to invest substantially in workforce training, Van Kleunen concluded that investments in workforce development are vital to economic recovery. 
In response to press questions, Chairman Scott expressed his belief that new workforce spending would be included in the final passage of the bill, but he is not approaching negotiations with any deal breaker in mind. Sen. Klobuchar continued that the Senate’s focus is on a bipartisan infrastructure package, in addition to focusing on the budget reconciliation process. 
You can watch the full press conference at the House Education and Labor Committee’s YouTube channel
House Sends Letter Calling for $100 Billion for Workforce Development in Reconciliation Bill
On Thursday, Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Steven Horsford (D-NV) sent a letter signed by 101 members of the House to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The letter requests that at least $100 billion in new spending for workforce development be included in the upcoming reconciliation package. The letter shares data on unemployment trends, worker upskilling and reskilling needs and economic recovery. In light of the changing  21st century economic landscape, the letter also states that federal spending on workforce programs and employment services is at its lowest levels in 50 years and funding for community college CTE programs has decreased by 38% over the last 20 years.  
The letter calls for a minimum of $100 billion in new investments for workforce development programs, including: 

  • CTE; 
  • Registered apprenticeships; 
  • Adult workforce training and dislocated worker programs; 
  • Youth career pipeline programs and re-entry employment opportunities; and
  • The full spectrum of training and career pathway supportive services, including income support, counseling and case management. 

The press release can be viewed here and the full letter here
Congress Introduces Bicameral Legislation to Close the Homework Gap
This week Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chriss Van Hollen (D-MD), as well as Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity Fund to Ensure Students Success (SUCCESS) Act. These members of Congress were joined by 15 other Senators and 25 House members to introduce the bill. The SUCCESS Act would build on the Emergency Connectivity Fund that was established under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and provide schools and libraries with $8 billion per year over five years to ensure Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and internet-enabled devices are available to students, staff and library patrons. This bill continues congressional efforts to close the homework gap seen by 12 to 17 million students who do not have internet access at home. 
The SUCCESS Act would provide the necessary continued funding once the one-time investment provided by the ARP expires. Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill. 
ED Approves More State K-12 Stimulus Plans 
ED announced the approval of additional ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) state plans and distributed remaining funds to those states. The seven approved states and funding levels include:

Kaine Leads Letter Urging Investment in Educator Workforce 
Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a Co-Chair of the Congressional CTE Caucus, led a letter signed by 13 other Senators to Senate leadership urging them to invest in a well-prepared, diverse, supported and stable educator workforce in upcoming infrastructure legislation. The letter is aligned with the proposed educator investments from the American Families Plan (AFP). Senator Kaine consistently supports workforce development in education. He recently reintroduced the Preparing and Retaining Educational Professionals (PREP) Act, with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), to address teacher and principal shortages. 
The press release can be found here and the full letter here
Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy