As you may know, the House and Senate are in active discussions and may be moving closer to reaching a compromise on language for the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act. APSE’s primary concerns of Section 511 and the move of RSA from the Department of Education to the Department of Labor remain. We have reached out to put pressure on Members of Congress about these issues, as House and Senate debates concerning this bill take place.
To reaffirm our position, we believe that the following two provisions threaten to take us backwards in our efforts to increase opportunities for people with disabilities to obtain competitive, integrated employment. Our two primary concerns are:
1. The proposed language in Section 511 contains a statement that individuals served by Vocational Rehabilitation can earn sub-minimum wage. While this language is intended to reduce use of sub-minimum wage, in APSE’s opinion, Section 511 will have the opposite impact, and will codify the use of sub-minimum wage within the Rehabilitation Act; and
2. The bill proposes to transfer the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) from the Department of Education to the Department of Labor (DOL). RSA serves individuals from childhood to adulthood, and APSE is concerned that movement of RSA into DOL, will diminish RSA’s comprehensive scope. In addition, there has been no analysis or study done regarding the impact of such a move, and whether it would increase employment of persons with disabilities. Until such analysis is done, the movement of RSA from DOE to DOL should not occur.
These proposals are steps in the wrong direction at a time when it is critical to support career development and self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. While these provisions originated in the Senate bill (S.1356), pre-conferencing is underway between House and Senate Committee staff, and it is critical that the House stand firm in opposition to both of these provisions.
We will continue to advocate for a WIA reauthorization that will take these concerns into consideration and we greatly appreciate all the great work our chapter leaders have done to make our voice heard!