In rare bipartisan achievement, Senate easily passes jobs bill
June 25th, 2014
05:11 PM ET
6 months ago

In rare bipartisan achievement, Senate easily passes jobs bill

Washington (CNN) – Talk about something you don’t see very often anymore.

In an unusually strong bipartisan vote, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a rewrite of federal workforce training programs that are designed to improve job skills and drive down the unemployment rate.

The legislation passed 95-3.

Senators of both parties were optimistic the bill would clear the House soon before going to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

The House has passed similar legislation but GOP House aides said they were uncertain the exact path the Senate bill would take in the House.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was the benefactor of a rare confluence of political and policy demands from both parties. Republicans wanted to streamline and provide accountability for the often duplicative programs while Democrats wanted to improve and modernize them so they would better meet the needs of today’s workers and employers.

In fact, it took a dozen years, over two presidencies, for lawmakers to agree to the changes, which will eliminate 15 programs and make significant modifications to the programs remaining so they will be more effective.

“There are ten million, six hundred thousand Americans who are unemployed. There are also four million jobs that need to be filled with people with specific skills. This bill deals with the skills deficit in America and is going to match some of those unemployed with some of those jobs.” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, who was one of key negotiators on the bill.

“We’ve doubled down on the programs that work. We’ve improved the programs that have become outdated. And we’ve created a workforce system that’s more nimble and adaptable, better aligned with what our businesses,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, another co-sponsor.

Murray said negotiations with Isakson were boosted because the two have offices next to each other in the Russell Senate building and they would often discuss the legislation while walking to the floor for votes.

“We started with a House proposal and Senate proposal and we all met in the middle,” she said. “It’s an all too rare opportunity for us to get behind a strong bipartisan, bicameral bill.”

“A lot of people who have watched the Senate over the last few years, might have said how in the world did you reach an agreement on anything? You always seem to be fighting,” Isakson said.


Filed under: Congress • Jobs
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Gary

    Must be close to election time.

    June 25, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    Hell must have frozen over. No name calling. No personal attacks. No heated ideological rhetoric. No finger pointing or accusations of selling out to the other side. Good to see the US Senate and House behaving in an adult and responsible manner. Compromise and finding common ground gets easier if they make it a habit. If only we can be so lucky.

    June 25, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. Pander Bear

    The three no votes – Coburn (R-OK), Johnson (R-WI), Lee (R-UT). Tea Baggers. Nuff said.

    June 25, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Thank you Ted Cruz for making this possible .

    It shows cross the isle Love for our fellow man .

    June 25, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. O'drama ya Mama

    Republicans just lost another talking point.

    June 25, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. Joe

    Surprise.. I wonder who are the 3 that voted against it? Send it to the House tonight and let the House vote on it. Stop playing around with the American people. Let President Obama sign it into law in front of the public.

    June 25, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. Bigd

    Twelve years to pass a bill, wow that's fast for this congress

    June 25, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    Except it's not all that rare in the Senate. There have been a few instances in which Senators from both parties have actually come together to pass something in a bipartisan manner, e.g., the immigration reform bill that the House GOP/Teatrolls refuse to allow a vote on. Senators aren't dependent upon gerrymandering the way House GOP/Teatrolls are...and the gerrymandering the GOP/Teatrolls did for their House districts made their districts very VERY red. So, setting aside GOP/Teatroll filibuster records in the Senate, what we've seen is a Senate that can sometimes actually work together and a House that's controlled by a rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth, radicalized majority whose efforts to secure their future re-elections has forced them to adopt extremist positions and refuse any negotiation or compromise in the House.

    June 25, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. Chris-E...al

    Goodtimes the dems must have took out some pork projects like pig study in China ?

    June 25, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "There are also four million jobs that need to be filled with people with specific skills. This bill deals with the skills deficit in America and is going to match some of those unemployed with some of those jobs.” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, who was one of key negotiators on the bill.

    THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT OBAMA HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT...training for specialized skills in industries that are seeing a lack of available candidates for the jobs...and yet when Obama said it...precisely that...the GOP/Teatrolls flung their turds and screeched their screeches and jousted their windmills calling it horrible. I'm glad it got done, but to have to listen to a GA GOPer adopt Obama's position without giving Obama credit...all while taking credit for himself...is too much to ask.

    June 25, 2014 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Goodtimes the dems must have took out some pork projects like pig study in China ?"

    Yeah, they found the argument compelling that we can just study all the pigs in the GOP/Teatrolls that we have right here in this country.

    June 25, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  12. don in albuquerque

    Can't you just smell the mid-terms in the air? Or is it possible they really wanted to do something to help people???? Nah.

    June 25, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    Now, watch the House GOP/Teatrolls attach Keystone Pipeline to it...or maybe something to block Obama's new environmental regulations...as an all-or-nothing demand.

    June 25, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  14. Silence DoGood

    Obama probably sent a memo around saying he hated the job bill so GOP'ers immediately voted for it without looking.
    Good move.

    June 25, 2014 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  15. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Now it goes to the House..... To die.

    June 25, 2014 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  16. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    That's Incredible. Why get busy now, this late in the game? Oh, pardon me, it's getting time for the constituents to make their pilgrimage to the polls. They have to try to remove some of the smell from their record of the years past. Hate to be this cynical, but it's the only way a regular person can survive these days.

    June 25, 2014 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  17. Tom l

    Sniffit you are exhausting

    June 25, 2014 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  18. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Senators of both parties were optimistic the bill would clear the House soon before going to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

    The House has passed similar legislation but GOP House aides said they were uncertain the exact path the Senate bill would take in the House.

    Dead.

    June 25, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    "In fact, it took a dozen years, over two presidencies, for lawmakers to agree to the changes, which will eliminate 15 programs and make significant modifications to the programs remaining so they will be more effective."

    But will President Obama get any credit for this legislation passing while he's in office? Heck no – the repub/tea bags will try to claim it was all them (and have already adopted the President's language in an effort to make it sound like they thought this up all on their ownsome).

    I can hardly wait until November 4, 2014 when we can send all these repub/tea bags PACKING.

    June 25, 2014 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  20. geggyg

    @Chris-E...al
    Maybe the Repubs took out their usual demands to repeal or defund the ACA , as well took restrictions on abortion and contraceptives

    June 25, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  21. j.v.hodgson

    Don't bet on this getting thru the house or even to a vote. The GOP teatroll will throw a pink fit and either refuse to Vote on or try and pass other amendments.
    Regards,
    Hodgson

    June 26, 2014 01:46 am at 1:46 am |