The Alliance for Opportunity applauds the House of Representatives for passing the bipartisan H.R. 6655, A Stronger Workforce for America Act, which includes a One Door to Work state demonstration waiver. 

This is the first chance in a decade to reform a system that is failing job seekers, employers, and those who are living in poverty or are out of work. There are 8.9 million open jobs in this country, and the workforce participation rate has not fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time. The Alliance led a coalition letter of 46 state, local, and national leaders from 17 states asking for this reform.

The House bill is a big step forward that would give some states the flexibility to innovate through a demonstration authority through which states can fully integrate their welfare and workforce services. The waiver would be available to four states with populations of less than six million and a labor force participation rate below 60%. Nine states currently meet those criteria: LA, WV, MS, SC, AR, AL, ME, KY, and NM. H.R. 6655 also creates a new pathway for single-state designation for any state. Three years after enactment, any state’s governor can change their designation to a single-state area (which would create One Door), but it would require a vote and approval from half of chairpersons of local workforce boards in a state. 

States are asking for this flexibility: Texas passed a One Door Taskforce and a resolution calling on Congress to open up a One Door waiver in 2023, Georgia‘s legislature passed an urging resolution to Congress, and Louisiana‘s Governor just issued an Executive Order this year. 

Ultimately, more states should have this flexibility, and the Alliance hopes the Senate continues to build upon the ideals of the House One Door provision by removing the restrictions on which states can apply for a waiver. 

Thank you to Speaker Mike Johnson, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Subcommittee Chairman and One Door to Work Act sponsor Rep. Burgess Owens, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx and Ranking Member Bobby Scott for recognizing that the best anti-poverty weapon is a job. Work provides purpose, stability to families, and helps maintain strong mental health for a person.