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WIA Reauthorization: Murray Discusses Bicameral, Bipartisan Deal on Senate Floor

May 21 2014

New agreement brings worker programs into the 21st Century



Murray: “This is an all-too-rare opportunity for all of us to get behind a strong, bipartisan, bicameral bill that will help workers and help our economy.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered remarks on the Senate floor following the introduction of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a bipartisan, bicameral deal to improve the nation’s workforce development system. In her speech, Murray highlighted that this bipartisan compromise would bring federal worker programs into the 21st Century, give workers and students resources they need to succeed, and foster a workplace that American businesses rely on to compete.

Key Excerpts from Senator Murray’s Remarks:

“I am very glad that we are finally on a strong bipartisan path to get this done for the families and businesses in Washington state and across the country who have been telling me how important effective workforce programs are for them and their communities.”

“I’ve seen firsthand in my home state of Washington, workers who were laid off who were able to get: new training, new skills, and new jobs. And I’ve seen so many Washington state businesses – from aerospace companies to video game design firms – that were able to access workers with new skills they needed to grow and compete, but the fact is: we’ve been relying on federal workforce development programs that were written in the 1990s, and with millions of new jobs that will require postsecondary education and advanced skills in the coming years, we will fall behind if we don’t modernize our workforce development now.”

“We have to make sure that when high-tech jobs of the 21st Century are created – Americans are ready to fill them. And that’s what we’ve done with this bill. We’ve doubled down on the programs that work. We’ve improved the programs that had become outdated. And we’ve created a workforce system that’s more nimble and adaptable, better aligned with what businesses need, and more accountable – so we can continue to make it better.”

“I’m going to be working with my colleagues here in the Senate – Democrats and Republicans – to get their support for this compromise, and our colleagues will be doing the same in the House of Representatives. This is an all-too-rare opportunity for all of us to get behind a strong, bipartisan, bicameral bill that will help workers and help our economy.”

Full Text of Senator Murray’s Remarks:

“Madam President, I’d like to take a few minutes today to discuss a piece of legislation that I introduced this morning, along with seven of my colleagues from this chamber and from the House of Representatives.

“That legislation is called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

“It’s a long overdue bill that will reauthorize and improve the Workforce Investment Act, or WIA, which includes dozens of critical workforce development programs in all 50 states.

“Madam President – this is an issue I’ve been working on for more than a decade – and for several years now, I’ve been proud to work here in the Senate to reauthorize WIA .

“So I am very glad that we are finally on a strong bipartisan path to get this done for the families and businesses in Washington state and across the country who have been telling me how important effective workforce programs are for them and their communities.

“The reason we were able to introduce such a strong bill this morning – and a bill that I think has a real chance to become law – is the incredible, bipartisan process we’ve had over the last few months to reach a compromise between both parties and both chambers.

“So Madam President – I first just want to thank each of the members who helped me introduce this legislation this morning by name.

In the House: Representative John Kline, Republican from Minnesota, Representative George Miller, Democrat from California. Representative Virginia Foxx, Republican from North Carolina, and Representative Ruben Hinojosa, Democrat from Texas

“And here in the Senate, Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat from Iowa and a great Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican from Tennessee, and finally, my close partner in this process, Senator Johnny Isakson from Georgia.

“Madam President, none of us got everything we wanted in the bill we introduced this morning, but all of us got a piece of legislation that we believe in – a bill that will help workers, businesses, and the economy for years to come.

“Now, Madam President – I am as strong of a supporter of our federal workforce development programs as anyone.

“I’ve seen firsthand in my home state of Washington, workers who were laid off who were able to get: new training, new skills, and new jobs.

“And I’ve seen so many Washington state businesses – from aerospace companies to video game design firms – that were able to access workers with new skills they needed to grow and compete, but the fact is: we’ve been relying on federal workforce development programs that were written in the 1990s, and with millions of new jobs that will require postsecondary education and advanced skills in the coming years, we will fall behind if we don’t modernize our workforce development now.

“We have to make sure that when high-tech jobs of the 21st Century are created – Americans are ready to fill them. And that’s what we’ve done with this bill.

“We’ve doubled down on the programs that work. We’ve improved the programs that had become outdated. And we’ve created a workforce system that’s more nimble and adaptable, better aligned with what businesses need, and more accountable – so we can continue to make it better.

“Because Madam President – that’s what we were sent here to do: work with our colleagues across the aisle for the American people.

“We had a House proposal, and we had a Senate proposal, and we met in the middle.

“Madam President, I can’t count how many times Senator Isakson, my Republican colleague, and I have talked about the importance of getting this done.

“His office is right next door mine – and whether we were at a committee hearing or on the train to the Capitol – we were always focused on how we could work together and find a path to a deal.

“But Madam President, we’re not done yet.

“I’m going to be working with my colleagues here in the Senate – Democrats and Republicans – to get their support for this compromise, and our colleagues will be doing the same in the House of Representatives.

“This is an all-too-rare opportunity for all of us to get behind a strong, bipartisan, bicameral bill that will help workers and help our economy.

“Thank you M. President, I yield the floor.”