News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, a key Senate committee passed legislation to update the Workforce Investment Act. The bipartisan legislation will help address the critical skills shortage facing workers and employers in Washington state.

Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously passed S.1021, a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Next, the bill must be voted on by the full Senate.

Senator Murray worked on the legislation as a senior member of the HELP Committee and as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. Murray has visited workforce boards and worked with workforce leaders throughout Washington state to craft a bill that will meet the needs of workers and employers in communities throughout Washington state.

The bill passed today makes progress on Senator Murray's priorities by knocking down barriers to training, increasing flexibility at the state and local levels, and cutting red tape.

Senator Murray issued the following statement:

"Today, we moved a step closer to helping jobseekers and employers throughout Washington state. The bill is good news for businesses and workers. It empowers employers and employees to use their first-hand knowledge to meet local employment needs. It knocks down barriers to training. It makes WIA services more efficient by streamlining performance, reporting, and eligibility criteria, and it gives states and local governments more flexibility without resorting to block grants.

For businesses, this bill will help them find local workers with the skills they need most. For employees, this bill will ensure that workers can get the training needed to fill in-demand jobs. And for workforce boards, this bill means a greater ability to meet local needs with more flexibility and efficiency and less red tape.

For these improvements to reach local communities, Congress must pass the bill, and the federal government must fund it. Over the last four years, the Administration has cut federal funding for workforce programs. Those cuts have prevented thousands of workers in Washington State from receiving the training they need to secure the family wage jobs available in our state. I will continue to work through the Appropriations process to secure additional funding for worker training programs.

I want to commend Chairman Enzi and the HELP Committee’s ranking member, Senator Kennedy, for their ongoing commitment to a bipartisan process that included extensive input from the major stakeholders in job training, adult education and vocational rehabilitation.

I am especially grateful to the Washington Workforce Association and to the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board for their ongoing input. Their insights helped us craft a bill that will address the challenges they're facing.

Workforce development is not a partisan issue. It’s an American challenge, and one that we must face together.