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Letter to the House Rules Committee on Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)

March 13, 2013

Dear Representative:

The National Education Association, which represents three million educators across the country, including faculty and staff in community colleges, strongly supports three amendments offered before your committee to the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act (H.R. 803).
First, NEA supports the amendments offered by Reps. Gibson and DelBene to correct a serious flaw in the bill as currently drafted. Rep. Gibson’s amendment would require the input of key stakeholders, especially labor unions, to the workforce development system. Labor’s input is critical to the success of the workforce development system—it will ensure that one sector does not dominate and possibly distort the program. We also support the DelBene amendment to H.R. 803, which would achieve the same goal by reverting to the composition of workforce investment boards under current law. While we greatly appreciate that the legislation adds critical focus to assisting at-risk and out-of-school youth, it makes no sense to do so without obtaining the input of those who actually provide training and services for students.
Second, NEA supports the amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Rep. Tierney. This amendment would strengthen, modernize, and promote innovation in the existing workforce investment system in a number of ways while maintaining critical current programs and funding streams for vulnerable populations. This amendment will also expand the role of community colleges in the workforce development system.  

We urge the committee to adopt the amendments offered by Reps. Gibson, DelBene, and Tierney. Workforce development—helping people acquire the skills to thrive and survive in the 21st century economy—is a goal in both political parties’ platforms. NEA looks forward to working with Representatives on both sides of the aisle as reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act makes its way through the Congress.

Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations