Update July 22 4:00 p.m.: Today President Barack Obama Signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act which will replace the outdated Workforce Investment act of 1998. The new act focuses on developing the skills and development for economical growth.

Big news for Americans and individuals following the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the bill recently cleared both the House and Senate. Senators John Isakson (R-GA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) co-authored the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and have been in the stages of negotiation for years, or as Murray joked, “Johnny and I have been working on this our whole lives.” It passed through the House last year and blew through the Senate 95-3, after months of negotiating and pre-conferencing. The bill is a major win for both parties and Americans.

A bill that passed the House last year focused primarily on getting rid of workforce programs, many of which were deemed redundant in a 2011 report from the Government Accountability Office. The Senate’s version of the bill, which passed out of committee in 2013, maintained most of those programs and focused on other priorities, like helping dislocated youth and updating the system for people with disabilities.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act works to solve a familiar problem: unemployment. It governs a web of federal programs meant to train people and help them find jobs.The act addresses bipartisan concerns that will improve workforce and target education and development of opportunities to create a stronger middle class.

Some highlights of the bill include:

  • Eliminating 15 existing programs.
  • Applying a single set of outcome metrics to every federal workforce program under the Act.
  • Creating smaller, nimbler, and more strategic state and local workforce development boards.
  • Integrating intake, case management and reporting systems while strengthening evaluations.
  • Eliminating the “sequence of services” and allowing local areas to better meet the unique needs of individuals.
  • Ensuring individuals with disabilities have the skills necessary to be successful in businesses that provide competitive, integrated employment.

The long culmination of edits and revision is a product of healthy bipartisan agreement, and a testimony of what can be accomplished, says Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), “This legislation is important for the millions of Americans who are looking for work and for the employers who have 4.6 million job opportunities that remain unfilled due to the skills gap. Closing this gap will specifically improve the lives of many American job seekers…”