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U.S. House Votes to Combine or Kill Job-Training Programs

The U.S. House voted to kill or combine dozens of job-training and adult-education programs, a change intended to end duplication.

“The current system is inefficient and ineffective,” said Republican John Kline of Minnesota, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.“Taxpayer dollars are being spent with little accountability.”

The vote on the bill, H.R. 803, was 215-202.

The measure next goes to the Senate, which has shown no interest in taking it up.

The legislation would repeal or consolidate 35 programs, replacing them with a Workforce Investment Fund, for which as much as $6.2 billion would be authorized annually from fiscal 2014 through 2020.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said the bill eliminates “bureaucratic hurdles” and makes it easier for community colleges and technical schools to take part in the program.

The federal government administers more than 50 employment and training programs across nine federal agencies, according to the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s report on the bill.

All the programs overlap with at least one other program, the committee majority found.

Partisan Disagreement

“We have yet to hear any credible evidence that these programs are duplicative,” said George Miller of California, the top Democrat on Kline’s committee.

The measure “would take our nation in the wrong direction,” said Democrat Ruben Hinojosa of Texas.

Before passage, the House adopted an amendment that would authorize the Comptroller General to complete studies to measure savings from streamlining the programs. The bill also would set aside funding for training for Alaska Natives.

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 is the main federal program that supports workforce development, job search assistance, career counseling, occupational skills training and on-the-job training. Its authorization has been extended through appropriations since it expired in 2003.

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