Washington Watch: House bill includes $2B community college program

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia), chair of the House Education and Labor Committee. (Photo courtesy of the committee)

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott on Friday introduced the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act (RAWA), which would authorize $15 billion for several workforce development programs and provides them with additional flexibility to address the pandemic. 

The bill would create a new $2 billion Community College and Industry Partnership Grants (CCIP) program that is modeled after the successful Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants program, which was passed during the previous recession to spur workforce and economic development around various industry sectors across the country.

Establishing such a program is a major component of the American Association of Community Colleges‘ (AACC) priorities for the next coronavirus stimulus bill.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) plans to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.  

House Democrats’ goal for the legislation is to include it in any forthcoming bill that provides additional resources to help the nation recover from the coronavirus pandemic. RAWA’s program authorizations would be matched by appropriations of funds in such a bill. Plans for another stimulus bill are unclear, though most acknowledge that the massive economic downturn will likely elicit further stimulus legislation. 

Details on proposed program

The Department of Labor-administered CCIP program would provide grants, contracts and cooperative agreements to community colleges through fiscal year 2024 to establish and scale career training programs, with an emphasis on serving those impacted by the pandemic. Individual institutions would receive grants up to $2.5 million and institutional consortia could receive up to $15 million. 

Community colleges would be lead grantees, but must work in partnership with industry and state higher education or workforce agencies. The legislation encourages partnerships to include other entities such as four-year universities and economic development agencies. At least 15 percent of each grant must go toward student support and emergency services, including tuition support. 

RAWA provides several Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs with substantial bumps in funding, including $2.5 billion each over two years for the adult, dislocated worker and youth WIOA formula programs. The Adult Basic Education program would receive $1 billion and $500 million would go to apprenticeship grants. The Department of Education’s Perkins Career and Technical Education program would also receive $1 billion. 

The legislation also would modify certain elements of these programs to ensure that they can effectively address the unique needs posed by the pandemic. 

About the Author

Jim Hermes
is associate vice president of government relations at the American Association of Community Colleges.