SKILLS Act Approved by the House – Now It’s Off to Die in the Senate

If you follow this legislation closely, you already know this, but in case you missed it: the House of Representatives, to no one’s surprise, approved the House Republicans’ Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization bill, H.R. 803 (known as the SKILLS Act) on Friday, pretty much along party lines. Only two Democrats voted in favor: Rep. Matheson (UT) and Rep. Barrow (GA).

Fourteen Republicans voted against:

Paul Cook (CA)
Gary Miller (CA)
Paul Broun Jr. (GA)
Thomas Massie (KY)
Justin Amash (MI)
Walter Jones Jr. (NC)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ)
Jon Runyan (NJ)
Christopher Gibson (NY)
Michael Grimm (NY)
Peter King (NY)
Michael Turner (OH)
Jim Bridenstine (OK)
David McKinley (WV)

Rep. Tierney (D-MA) offered the Democrats’ substitute bill, H.R. 798, as an amendment, but again, not surprisingly, it didn’t pass.

Interestingly, the two Democratic House members vying for John Kerry’s former Senate seat, Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch, both sat out the vote.

The bill will now go on to find a nice hole to crawl into in the Senate. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee is reportedly working on a bipartisan WIA reauthorization bill, and thus it is extremely unlikely that the SKILLS Act, having received virtually no Democratic support in the House, will ever see the light of day on the Senate floor.

It was a bit frustrating (for me, anyway) to see this bill introduced at this time, since it’s going nowhere in the Senate. Because WIA is so critical to adult education funding, adult education advocates couldn’t ignore it, but I fear that it served as a distraction from immigration reform, where I think there is better opportunity right now to generate some new awareness and support in Congress for adult education.