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Lawmakers Clear Bipartisan Workforce Bill for Senate Vote

Senate Democrats and Republicans, some of whom have been working more than a decade to overhaul the federal workforce training law, may finally have their day on the chamber floor.

Lawmakers reached an agreement late Thursday for consideration of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which, according to a Senate aide, could come up for debate as early as next week. Last week, those involved in drafting the legislation, including Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Patty Murray, D-Wash., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., had predicted swift passage before the Independence Day recess, but were still trying to appease some Senate Republicans.

The details of the agreement allow for just three amendments. The first will be from Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., which would make the appointment and certification of a new local workforce board permissible instead of required. Another from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would make an evaluation report a requirement. And finally, a managers' amendment would make strictly technical changes.

None of these stand to impact the small sliver of the bill that ties into education—a provision that would provide greater access to job training for students entering the workforce with special needs.

The agreement also includes some procedural details. For example, there will be 10 minutes of debate equally divided between both parties, after which the Senate will vote on the three amendments. There will then be an additional 10 minutes of debate equally divided between the two parties prior to a vote on the bill itself.

Lawmakers in both chambers struck a deal on the workforce training bill in May, and it's expected to clear both the House and Senate with relatively few hiccups.

Importantly, if the proposal is signed into law, it will be one of the last major pieces of legislation that Harkin helped author and usher through his Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee before he retires at the end of the year.

Check back here for updates on floor action.

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