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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - August 21, 2023

Stopgap Likely to Avoid Government Shutdown


Washington Update


Appropriations

On Tuesday, August 15, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) said that a stopgap spending bill through early December would make sense less than 24 hours after Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (CA) also suggested the same timeframe during a private GOP conference call. Both leaders have acknowledged that a stopgap will be necessary to avoid a shutdown on October 1.

Senate appropriators have already approved all 12 FY24 spending bills in committee with largely bipartisan support. Schumer said he is hoping those bills will pass on the Senate floor in the upcoming months and also acknowledged that the Senate will need to address President Biden’s $40 billion request for emergency aid.

House Education and the Workforce Committee

Since taking over as Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Dr. Virginia Foxx has secured House passage of the “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” — the vehicle for GOP education priorities such as ensuring parents know about their school options and policies on transgender students; and helped lead the conservative effort to derail President Joe Biden’s Labor secretary nominee Julie Su’s confirmation.

Now in her 18th year in Congress, Chairwoman Foxx (who received a rare term-limit waiver to lead the committee a third time) intends to take up Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act reauthorization soon — a leadership role she also played in its passage nearly a decade ago. “I can’t wait to get into it,” Foxx said in an interview with Politico. “WIOA was passed in exactly the same situation we're in right now: We had a Republican House, a Democrat Senate, and a Democrat president.”

Bipartisan negotiations fell through in the last Congress after Republicans balked at the Democrats’ funding levels. Nevertheless, Dr. Foxx still sees areas of agreement, including on short-term Pell grants. Although committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA) also supports expanding Pell grants to cover short-term training programs, he has indicated there are details that remain to be worked out for full agreement. Nevertheless, the two party leaders maintain a good working relationship despite having some of the most contentious issues within their jurisdiction.

Career-Connected High Schools

On Monday, August 14, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) announced the posting of a notice inviting applicants (NIA) for a new award for FY23 for the Perkins Innovation and Modernization (PIM) Grant Program for Career-Connected High Schools. Through this competition, the Department of Education seeks to award just over $24 million in grant funds for projects that will build capacity among secondary education, postsecondary education, and workforce development systems to expand access to career-connected high school programs for more students. Career-connected high schools offer systematic postsecondary counseling and career advisings, dual or concurrent enrollment, work-based learning, and programs that offer opportunities to earn an industry-recognized credential. This grant is the first funding opportunity of OCTAE’s initiative Unlocking Career Success, which is part of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s Raise the Bar: Lead the World campaign. The application deadline is October 13, 2023.

Click here to access the notice in the Federal Register.

Click here to read the Department of Education blog post on the initiative.

Revised Pathways Program Regulations

On Tuesday, August 15, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced proposed modifications to the regulations for the Pathways Programs to align the program to better meet the federal government’s needs for recruiting and hiring interns and recent graduates. The proposal would expand applicant eligibility for the federal recent graduates program to include people who don’t have degrees, but who have participated in programs including the Peace Corps or registered apprenticeships. Internship applicants who have completed registered apprenticeships or Job Corps would also be allowed to credit some of the time participating in those programs toward the hours required to become eligible for a permanent position.

Click here to access the proposed regulations.

Federal Child Care Stabilization Funds

States have until September 30 to spend their federal child care stabilization funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Congressional lawmakers continue to push for $16 billion in supplemental emergency funding ahead of the impending cliff, but President Biden did not include child care funding in his emergency funding request. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR) is leading the push for supplemental child care funding and expressed concern that the Administration didn’t ask for additional funding for more child care stabilization grants. The Century Foundation estimated that more than 70,000 child care programs will close following the funding cliff.

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending August 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 239,000, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 248,000 to 250,000. The 4-week moving average was 234,250, an increase of 2,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 231,000 to 231,500. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.2 percent for the week ending August 5, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate.

Click here to access the report.

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