Earlier today, the House Ways and Means Committee approved H.R. 8915, the Education and Workforce Freedom Act, by a vote of 23-13.  H.R. 8915 has now been reported to the House floor, for consideration at a time yet to be determined.

Sec. 3 of H.R. 8915 encompasses a slightly revised version the PCC’s Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act (H.R. 1477/S. 722), which would permit beneficiaries of 529 savings accounts to use the funds in those accounts to cover costs associated with obtaining and maintaining postsecondary credentials, including professional certifications and occupational licenses.  This legislation – which the PCC conceived and drafted – has been our coalition’s primary federal advocacy priority over the past few years and has garnered 146 cosponsors (88 Republican/58 Democratic) in the House and 24 cosponsors (12 Democratic/12 Republican) in the Senate, making it one of the most bipartisan bills Congress has considered this session.   We worked closely with committee staff on the substance of the bill as well as the politics surrounding it in advance of today’s committee markup meeting.

There are two primary differences between H.R. 1477 (our original House bill) and Section 3 of H.R. 8915.  First, H.R. 8915 has language that expressly covers programs connected with obtaining a postsecondary credential, including those required to obtain a state or federal license.  This change would effectively cover training programs for pilots and airplane mechanics required to obtain FAA certification for those professions—it opens up a whole new group of supporters for our bill who had previously sponsored a bill (H.R. 1818) that would have expanded 529s specifically for the purpose of covering these aviation training programs.  Second, H.R. 8915 includes examples of qualifying recognized post-secondary credentials and credential programs (which the PCC provided), such as accreditation by NCCA, ANSI, or I.C.E., inclusion in the COOL database, inclusion in the database of training programs maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or meeting other criteria established by the IRS in consultation with the DOL (a catch-all category that should capture reputable certification programs that don’t fall in the categories listed in the examples).  As such, we believe that the postsecondary credential provisions in H.R. 8915 represent an improvement to the introduced version of Freedom to Invest.  We are thrilled to see them advance.

S. 722 / H.R. 1477  / Coalition Roster