(WASHINGTON, D.C.)-U.S. Senator Patty Murray today announced that the full Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously approved a bill (S.1627) that will help retrain more American workers. Murray used her role as the ranking member of the Senate Employment, Safety and Training Subcommittee of the HELP Committee to expand the Workforce Investment Act to provide more skills development and training opportunities for workers and to strengthen the role of employers in the public workforce system.

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which Congress passed in 1998, provides one-stop job centers, training programs and other employment related services for workers across the country. The bill also fosters partnerships between workers, businesses, community colleges and organized labor to meet the workforce needs of local communities. Congress is working to update WIA this year.

"What we do with this Act may mean the difference between someone who is trapped outside the workforce without the skills they need, and someone who can compete and win in today's economy," Murray said. "Thanks to WIA, new partnerships are being built to help workers and employers across Washington state. We need to continue to build on these partnerships, not implement sweeping changes."

Senator Murray worked to ensure that the reauthorized Workforce Investment Act will:

  • Empower WIA's two customers – business and workers – to use their first-hand knowledge to meet local employment needs while providing appropriate incentives and flexibility to bring people and businesses into One-Stop Centers.

  • Murray emphasized that this funding should not mean using block grants to consolidate services.

  • Make WIA services more efficient at every level by streamlining the performance, reporting and eligibility criteria, and by eliminating barriers to job training.

Provide more appropriate performance measures to reflect the type of work and the labor markets being served.

"I am pleased to have worked to give Washington state workers the additional tools they will need to move to new jobs, higher incomes, and brighter futures," Senator Murray said. "By strengthening the Workforce Investment Act we are improving training and occupational opportunities for our workers today and paving the way for our nation’s economic growth and security tomorrow."