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FYI: The House passed its bill reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act yesterday, voting largely along party lines. The House bill tracks the White House proposal closely, and GOP members loudly championed its removal of “barriers for faith-based providers.” The bill allows religious groups to access federal job training cash without having to abide by rules protecting religious freedom that would, for instance, forbid them from hiring based on religious beliefs. Workforce development advocates, however, have voiced most concern over the bill’s consolidation of several job training funding streams into one all-encompassing block grant. The House bill also does nothing to temper the WIA’s “sequencing” requirements, which force participants to go through assessment and job search stages before getting training, which critics say have limited the program’s usefulness. [5/9/03]

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