Career Training Legislation Remains Stalled in Congress a Year After Being Introduced

May 4, 2018

Despite passing the House by unanimous voice vote last year, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353) has yet to be taken up by the Senate. The bill was introduced by Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) with 40 co-sponsors. It would reauthorize and make slight changes to the Perkins Act, which establishes the guidelines for federally-funded career and technical education (CTE) programs.

This lack of movement has frustrated many on the Hill. At a recent event on workforce training, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) called the legislation “the biggest no-brainer on Capitol Hill”, but also conceded the bills non-controversial nature may also be its downfall. “The problem is it never becomes the number one priority for everyone at the same time. Whereas I view it as one of my top two or three, I can’t move the Speaker [Paul Ryan (R-WI) or [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to make it theirs.”

With China’s rapid ascent to R&D supremacy on the global stage, CTE programs are gaining traction and increased attention. Even the president has previously stated that he would like to make CTE a priority, a fact that was reflected in Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ proposed priorities for the year.  Even so, the bill remains in limbo with no clear signal from Leadership that it will become an election year priority. As Angel Hanks, director of work-force development policy at the Center for American Progress surmised, “Perkins is something that’s pretty popular. It should be relative low-hanging fruit, so it’s strange that it’s being held up.”

To view the Bill that was passed by the House, click here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2353/text

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