House Committee Approves Bills on Short-Term Pell, WIOA Reauthorization
December 18, 2023

​​​Last week, the House Education and the Workforce Committee voted to move forward two bills impacting institutions of higher education: the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act (H.R. 6585) and the A Stronger Workforce for America Act (H.R. 6655).

Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act

Committee members voted 37 to 8 to approve a bill expanding Pell Grants to short-term career training programs of eight to 15 weeks, which would expand access to training for adults seeking better job opportunities, a policy ACE has traditionally supported.

However, the legislation contains a funding mechanism intended to cover the cost of the expansion that would cut federal student loans to dozens of colleges and universities that are subject to an excise tax on investment income (the so-called “endowment tax").

ACE sent a letter on behalf of five other higher education associations last week to congressional leaders expressing strong opposition to the unprecedented and harmful shift in federal student financial aid that could have broader implications for the accessibility of higher education.

“Beyond the harmful precedent this approach would set, it will have negative consequences for students," the groups write.

During the markup, Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), one of the original cosponsors of the bill, indicated a willingness to reconsider the offset and explore alternative means to fund the bill. Several other legislators from both parties expressed concerns with the offset.

To learn more, ACE has published a bill summary and talking points.

A Stronger Workforce for Americ​​a Act

The committee also approved A Stronger Workforce for America Act, a bill that would reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), by a vote of 44 to 1. Given the role of higher education in developing and preparing a high-skilled workforce, several aspects of the legislation impact institutions of higher education.

This bipartisan bill, which covers federal workforce programs, includes changes intended to upgrade the skills of workers to help them obtain jobs in critical industries, assist individuals who were formerly incarcerated in transitioning back into the workforce, and strengthen workforce education programs at community colleges.

The bill would also add new accountability provisions for WIOA programs and seeks to provide state and local workforce boards more flexibility to improve the workforce system.

ACE has published a bill summary, which you can view here.