Both houses of Congress were in recess this week, with Representatives and Senators back in their home states. However, there was an important development on the committee assignment front. House leadership announced Republican members of more committees, following the announcement last week of Republican members of the “A” list committees—Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce, Financial Services, and Appropriations. This week, Republican members of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Judiciary Committees were named. We are waiting to see the new members of the renamed House Education and the Workforce Committee, which is being chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5). This is the panel that will consider all of ABMA’s workforce development priorities and will lead efforts to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Also noteworthy on the workforce front, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL-4) was named as the chair of the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor-Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which has appropriations jurisdiction over education and workforce development programs through the Departments of Education and Labor. Rep. Aderholt replaces Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4) as the lead Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee Republican.
Employer Directed Skills Act
ABMA reached out to Rep. Elise Stefanik’s (R-NY-21) team this week to discuss timing of reintroducing the Employer Directed Skills Act—H.R. 6255. This legislation was a key workforce development policy priority for ABMA last year and will continue to be a focus in the 118th Congress.
Recall that the legislation seeks to make existing workforce programs more flexible and tailored to the needs of each particular employer. Specifically, the bill would:
- Allow employers to identify prospective workers to participate in a skills development program selected by the employer,
- Expand eligible programs to include work-based learning provided by the employer or an outside program from a third-party provider, and
- Provide partial reimbursements for the costs of upskilling programs through an Employer-Directed Skills Account.
According to staff, some unspecified changes to the bill are under development, but Rep. Stefanik remains committed to leading on this legislation this Congress. The goal is to reintroduce the measure by early second quarter this year. Our goal is to make this legislation bipartisan so that it has a chance of making it into the broader WIOA reauthorization package.
ABMA is reaching out to the House and Senate sponsors of our other policy priorities in the workforce, transportation, and tax spaces to ascertain timing of reintroduction of bills we supported last Congress. We will keep you regularly apprised of the latest intelligence.