The Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to authorize federal job training programs.

Passage of the legislation on a 95-3 vote marks a rare bipartisan area of agreement amid the Senate's election-year stalemate.


Congress last authorized the workforce law in 1998, and it expired in 2003. 

"In these 16 years, there have been several attempts to reauthorize this legislation, and they have all fallen short," Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSenate heads home to campaign after deal on Trump nominees GOP has always been aggressive in trying to weaponize the system of judicial nominations Republicans come full circle with Supreme Court battle to the end MORE (D-Nev.) said.

Reid said he hoped passage of the bill would help thaw the Senate's legislative logjam over the past several months.

"They say in basketball, if you’re not doing well, you have a lot of off days, that the best way for a shooter to get his rhythm back is to sink a couple of baskets," Reid said. "So I hope this theory proves true here in the Senate. It’s time we sank a couple of baskets. It’s time we start working together to get things done."

The legislation was negotiated by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price 'gag clauses' | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' Senate defeats measure to overturn Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans MORE (R-Tenn.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), as well as their counterparts in the House.

It would authorize job training programs for six years and require them to document how many people are newly employed as a result.

Alexander, the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said the measure would help unemployed workers obtain the training necessary to find jobs.

"It's too hard to find a job. It's too hard to create a job. We have some differences of opinion on what to do about it, but I think we agree that matching job skills to a job is a solution to millions of Americans," Alexander said.

Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedFive changes Democrats will seek at Pentagon if they win power The Hill's Morning Report — Historic, high-stakes day for Kavanaugh and Ford Admiral defends record after coming under investigation in 'Fat Leonard' scandal MORE (D-R.I.), whose state has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, said authorizing the job training programs would match workers with the skills needed in the modern workforce.

"The need to improve our workforce investment system has crystallized during the Great Recession," Reed said. "Employers say they have open positions they cannot fill because they cannot find the workers with the skills they need today."

The Senate considered two Republican amendments, bringing the total number of roll calls on GOP amendments to 11 in this Congress.

Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-Ariz.) amendment, rejected 33-63, would make it optional to appoint and certify new local job training boards.

Additionally, Sen. Mike Lee's (R-Utah) amendment would require reviews of job training every four years. Funding for the programs would be reduced if they do not submit the reports. It was also rejected by a vote of 40-58.

— Alexander Bolton contributed.