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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - April 11th, 2022

House Committee Passes WIOA Reauthorization Bill

Washington Update

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Reauthorization

On Tuesday, April 5, on a vote of 29-21, the House Education and Labor Committee approved the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022 (WIOA). The legislation initially began as a bipartisan draft but Democrats released their own final bill last month. The bill authorizes $74 billion to WIOA over six years - an increase from the 2014 bill which provided $19.8 billion over six years. It also codifies a Department of Labor program that helps those convicted of crimes find employment; expands existing youth employment programs; codifies a grant program that gives community colleges money to create employment programs tailored to specific sectors; and creates a new program that would encourage state and local workforce development boards to partner with employers, among other things. Republicans have criticized the increased funding levels and feel the bill fails to expand support for apprenticeships beyond registered apprenticeships. They also oppose the increased role for organized labor in the workforce system's governance in the bill, among other things.

Click here to access the markup webpage.

Click here to read a one-page summary of the legislation.

Click here to read a section-by-section summary.

Click here to access the full legislation.

Click here to read the USCM WDC’s WIOA Reauthorization policy priorities paper. Click here to read the USCM WDC’s comments on the discussion draft.

Covid Aid

On Monday, April 4, Senate negotiators reached a $10 billion deal on COVID-19 aid but hit an obstacle Tuesday when Senate Republicans blocked an effort to take up the COVID relief deal over demands for votes on amendments - including one that targets the Administration’s Title 42 immigration decision. This means more pandemic aid could now be delayed for weeks. The bill would give the Administration the ability to purchase more vaccines and therapeutics, as well as maintain testing capacity and research. The legislation would rescind $500 million of higher education funding from the American Rescue Plan that has not yet been awarded to colleges and universities. The American Rescue Plan Act set aside a total of $39.6 billion for higher education. The bill relies on unused money from previous pandemic relief bills.

Growth Opportunity Initiative Grant

The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has made $85 million available in grants through the Department’s Growth Opportunity Initiative. These grants aim to prepare justice-involved youth and young adults for the world of work through placement into paid work experiences. The Growth Opportunity Initiative particularly focuses on youth and young adults who live in areas of concentrated crime and poverty, as well as communities that have recently experienced significant unrest.

As the Biden-Harris Administration continues to combat gun violence and other violent crime through preventative measures, these grants aim to help youth and young adults to increase their conflict resolution skills and develop strategies to prevent and avoid violence; introduce and prepare youth for the world of work; help youth identify career interests, attain relevant skills and gain work experience; and provide income to youth to start them on the path of earning living wages and obtaining high quality jobs and careers.

The Department plans to award about 29 total grants through two rounds of competition. Both rounds will use the same funding opportunity announcement and individual awards will range from around $1.5 million to $4 million. Applications for the first round of funding are due on April 21st, 2022 and applications for the second round of funding are due on October 5th, 2022.

Click here to read the entire announcement and to learn more about the Growth Opportunity grant funding.

Click here to access a list of frequently asked questions about the Growth Opportunity Initiative.

Click here to access the Prospective Applicant Webcast for the Growth Opportunities Grant Funding Opportunity.

Committee Hearing

On Monday, April 11, the House Committee on Economic Disparity & Fairness in Growth will hold the field hearing “Pathways to Opportunity: Lessons from Kenosha.” The House Select Committee - Chaired by Congressman Jim Himes (CT) – will travel to the State of Wisconsin to conduct a series of field events in Kenosha and Milwaukee focusing on higher education, affordable housing, and community workforce development.

Click here to learn more and access the livestream.

Weil Withdraws Nomination

Last week, David Weil withdrew his name for consideration for the head of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division - the same role he held under the Obama administration. On Thursday, April 7, the White House notified the Senate of the decision. On March 30, Weil’s nomination was defeated in the Senate when three moderate Senate Democrats - Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Mark Kelly (AZ), and Joe Manchin (WV) - voted against the nomination. Republicans opposed Weil as they believed he supported policies that would stifle franchising and independent contracting.

The Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022

On Thursday, April 7, the House passed The Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022 (HR 3807),which would provide $42 billion to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) and $13 billion for the Hard Hit Industries Award Program to help other struggling businesses with less than 200 employees who were not previously eligible for relief. The bill now moves to the Senate, where Democrats including Small Business Chair Ben Cardin (MD) have been drafting their own version of the legislation.

If passed, the bill would provide funding to 1177,000 restaurants that were approved for RRF grants but did not receive them before the portal closed. These applicants, which the National Restaurant Association reports represent 20% of the nation’s restaurants, will be asked by the Small Business Administration to sign a form confirming the business is open or will reopen in the next six months but there will be no additional application requirements. The $13 billion in the bill reserved for small businesses will be available for new applicants.

The Senate has delayed its consideration of the legislation until after the two-week recess, with supporters hoping that a standalone measure can move when Congress returns at the end of the month.

Click here to read more about the bill.

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending April 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 166,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 31,000 from 202,000 to 171,000. The 4-week moving average was 170,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 30,500 from 208,500 to 178,000. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.1 percent for the week ending March 26, unchanged from the previous week's revised rate.

Click here to access the report.

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