Workforce Bill Finally Put to Rest in Closing Days
The Workforce and Career Development Act of 1996 (H.R. 1617) is now officially dead despite nearly being revived by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (MS) as Congress rushed to adjourn.
Senator Lott had promised a vote of the final conference report before adjournment to fulfill a pledge to one of the few strong supporters of the bill, Senator Nancy Kassebaum (KS).
Senator Edward Kennedy (MA) vowed a filibuster if the vote was allowed and had enough votes to carry out his promise to kill the legislation.
News about the bill's chances reached U.S. Conference of Mayors Employment and Training Council members as they met in Washington September 17th. The Conference is strongly opposed to the legislation following the Conference Committee's final decision to weaken the role of the chief local elected official in the consolidation of workforce programs. As written, the bill does not include those components necessary to build a world class workforce system, and mayors do not have authority to approve local budgets, or to review and evaluate locally operated programs in partnership with local workforce boards.
In addition, the bill does not target funds for dislocated workers and at-risk youth through a state formula and a mandated summer jobs program. It does not have adequate funding levels and does not have strong accountability measures established by the federal government that would monitor the acquisition of skills and the attainment of jobs and self-sufficiency.
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