by Mitch Coopes, Government Relations Senior Specialist, Goodwill Industries International
Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona have recently been making the rounds on Capitol Hill to pitch lawmakers on President Biden’s legislative priorities for workforce development and education. Specifically, Secs. Walsh and Cardona appeared before committees in the House and Senate to promote the Administration’s fiscal year 2022 (FY22) budget, which calls for increased funding for many employment and training programs, as well as the education and workforce components of the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan proposals that are currently being debated in Congress.
In a hearing before the House Education and Labor Committee, Sec. Walsh also outlined the Administration’s goals for the pending reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). He provided recommendations to the committee that focus on several priority areas, which include expanding access to quality training and services, such as paid work experiences, on-the-job training, and holistic support services; better integrating workforce, education, and public assistance systems; improving data, transparency, and accountability; and aligning WIOA with key proposals outlined in the American Jobs Plan. The recommendations call for new programs to support sector partnerships and community college workforce training programs. In addition, Sec. Walsh urged the committee to permanently authorize in WIOA the Reentry Employment Opportunities program that provides grants to community-based organizations, including local Goodwill® agencies, for reentry employment services, skills training, and wrap-around supports for justice-involved individuals.
Sec. Cardona touted the Department of Education’s FY22 budget that proposes additional funding for career and technical education, as well as an increase in the maximum Pell Grant award to support low-income students pursuing higher education. “The President’s Request also recognizes that a skilled workforce is critical for both strong communities and a strong economy by proposing to make targeted investments that would help build the capacity of our workforce development system,” said Cardona. He further noted that President Biden’s American Families Plan would provide two years of free community college to first-time students and workers who need to update their skills.
While the Administration and Democrats in Congress push forward on expansive legislation to promote infrastructure, jobs, and economic mobility, Republican lawmakers remain resistant to the significant increases in federal spending and many of the policy changes being proposed. This dynamic sets the stage for a summer of heated debates on Capitol Hill over annual funding bills and President Biden’s jobs and families plans. We will continue to share updates with our Goodwill advocates in the weeks ahead.