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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - April 10th, 2023

Su Opposition Continues

Washington Update

Su Nomination

On Thursday, April 6, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (CA) and House Education and the Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (NC), along with other House Republicans, continued their campaign against Julie Su’s nomination for Secretary of Labor. The group sent a letter to President Biden that mainly focused on Su’s tenure as California’s state labor secretary and included criticism of her handling of unemployment insurance fraud and the state’s independent contractor rule.

Additionally, the “Stand Against Su” coalition - a group of small businesses, freelancers, tipped workers, and franchisees working together to oppose her nomination — announced Friday that it had placed newspaper ads in Arizona, Maine, Montana and West Virginia against her moving forward.

The Arizona and Montana ads imply Su will turn those states “into California,” referencing her time as California’s labor secretary as her opponents have said repeatedly over the past several weeks. Her Senate confirmation hearing is slated for April 20. The group has also purchased billboards and “targeted digital content” in their efforts to derail her nomination, according to a recent press release.

Additional resistance to Su’s nomination may come from moderate senators, including Joe Manchin (WV), Jon Tester (MT), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), who are potentially facing tough reelections and represent three of the four states targeted in the ads.

Click here for more information about “Stand Against Su.”

Department of Labor

On Wednesday, April 5, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the availability of $80 million in funding through its Building Pathways to Infrastructure Jobs Grant Program to maximize the impact of the Biden-Harris administration’s historic infrastructure, manufacturing and clean energy investments. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will highlight the announcement during her travel this week as part of the administration’s “Investing in America” tour. The Investing in America agenda, which includes legislation such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and CHIPS and Science Act, is creating millions of good-paying jobs in renewable energy, transportation and broadband infrastructure sectors, and the Biden-Harris administration is helping workers access the training and develop the skills needed to fill these jobs. Pending availability of funds, the department intends to make a total of approximately $200 million available for the Building Pathways to Infrastructure Jobs Grant program over multiple competitive rounds of funding.

The grants will enable partners in the public and private sectors to develop or scale workforce training programs to prepare job seekers in advanced manufacturing; information technology; and professional, scientific, and technical service occupations that support renewable energy, transportation, and broadband infrastructure sectors. These include occupations in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors; broadband and transmission expansion; advanced manufacturing, including biomanufacturing; and electrical, industrial, and civil engineers and technicians who facilitate the design, construction, modernization, and maintenance of the nation’s infrastructure. Nonprofits, labor organizations, public and state institutions of higher education, economic and workforce entities, and state, county and local governments may apply for grants ranging from $500,000 to $5 million.

Click here to learn more about the grant opportunity.

Click here to access the full press release.

Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education will hold three public listening sessions this week to discuss the next set of higher education rulemaking scheduled for this fall.

The department will hold day-long hearings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week to solicit public input on a wide range of higher education policies.

Discussion topics include rules governing the Federal TRIO programs; third-party servicers such as online program management companies; distance education programs; accreditation; and the policies known as “cash management” that determine how colleges distribute federal aid to students. Department officials are also seeking ideas on ways to improve borrowers’ awareness of income-driven repayment plans.

The hearings will help inform months of negotiations over potential new rules, which will be decided by a rulemaking panel slated to start this fall.

Last week the White House also released possible changes to how it reviews regulatory proposals across agencies, including how agencies weigh the costs and benefits of rules. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is examining ways to expand access to the meetings it holds about forthcoming rules.

Unemployment Rate

On Friday, April 7, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the unemployment report for March, which showed that the economy added 236,000 jobs last month with the unemployment rate dropping to 3.5% from 3.6% amid a rising labor force participation rate. The report signals labor market resilience that will keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates one more time next month. Some of the slowdown in hiring reflected the fading boost from unseasonably mild weather in January and February.

Click here to access the report.

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