While virtually all of the news coming out of Washington, D.C., lately is focused on acrimonious partisan debates, both parties in both houses of Congress came together recently to pass an important bill that enables America's workforce to compete in an ever-changing global economy. Considering this issue has been debated for more than 11 years, we should celebrate this success as a demonstration of what can happen when politics are finally put aside and practicality is put front and center.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which passed the Senate on June 25, also cleared the House of Representatives on July 9, and will now go to President Obama for his signature. Passing this bill -- which modernizes and improves existing federal workforce development programs, helping American workers attain skills for 21st century jobs -- was no easy task.
The successful bill represents a compromise between the SKILLS Act, which passed the House of Representatives in March 2013, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013, which cleared the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee with a bipartisan vote in July 2013. Despite serious debates on multiple provisions in both bills, leaders were able to come together and craft legislation that will play a vital role in training millions of Americans for the modern workforce. The final version of the WIOA, which has been in debate for reauthorization since 2003 (as the Workforce Investment Act), also represents many of the thoughts of community-based organizations that provide services to people with disabilities as well as to advocates of people with disabilities.
The WIOA provides access to training, education and workforce services that all of America's workers, regardless of ability, need to compete in a global economy. Overall, the act maintains the nation's core job training programs, increases accountability metrics, reduces bureaucracy, improves programs for all people, and strengthens ties between the state's regional workforce development councils and employers.
We are further encouraged that provisions of the WIOA pertaining to transition-age youth will ensure that they have the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of choices along a continuum of community services and other opportunities for skills training prior to working under a special minimum wage certificate.
Every person deserves opportunities to gain skills training and to fulfill their potential. This legislation will enable more community program participants and workers across our nation to train for and earn meaningful work. I applaud Congress for its leadership in coming to a bipartisan agreement to update and overhaul our nation's largest job training programs.