Senate Deal on WIOA – Amendments to be Heard

Senate leadership reached an agreement to move the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) forward for Floor action,  expected this week. The agreement lays out terms for the consideration of the bill on the Senate Floor, to include a small handful of amendments that will be offered, which will significantly limit Floor debate.

The Senate will proceed to consideration of H.R. 803, at which point a Murray-Isakson-Harkin-Alexander amendment in the nature of a substitute will be considered, with the following amendments in order to the substitute:

  • Flake amendment
  • Lee amendment
  • A managers’ technical amendment

There will be 10 minutes for debate equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders, or their designees, on each of the above amendments.  Upon the use or yielding back of debate time, the Senate will proceed to vote in relation to the amendments, in the order listed, with no second-degree amendments in order.  If H.R. 803, as amended, is passed, a Murray-Isakson-Harkin-Alexander amendment to the title will be agreed to by unanimous consent

Because the bill was announced in May, the Senate leadership navigating the process—Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, ranking member Lamar Alexander, Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Johnny Isakson—have worked together to negotiate an agreement with other Senators so that the bill can be considered during the Senate’s limited summer session.

The Flake Amendment raises serious concerns among workforce advocates because it changes the current law, which says that states may take action after two years of poor performance; the new WIOA language says that states shall take action after three years of poor performance.  The Flake amendment (introduced by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ) would change the WIOA provision to one year. Several lawmakers demanded that the “may” be changed to “shall” in the amendment.  The Flake Amendment is viewed as seriously disruptive at both municipal and state levels.