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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - December 4, 2023

Senate Fails to Advance DOL ETA Nominee

Washington Update


On Wednesday, November 29, during a meeting with GOP senators, House Speaker Mike Johnson reiterated that he is unwilling to pass another stopgap funding patch when the shutdown deadlines arrive in January and February. Many House conservatives are now signaling that Johnson’s “honeymoon phase” is over as Congress prepares for several funding fights over the next few weeks in order to avoid a government shutdown early next year. While far right House members celebrated Johnson’s ascent to Speaker due to his more conservative credentials when compared to former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (CA), many Freedom Caucus members are concerned about his focus on “four corner deals more than talking with his conference,” as Congressman Chip Roy (TX) stated. If lawmakers can’t pass a bipartisan, bicameral deal in the next two months the only solution would be to pass a full-year continuing resolution through September 30 - setting up a funding standoff right before the presidential election. Several House conservatives have indicated they are willing to accept the overall budget totals established under the bipartisan debt deal earlier this year, with some exceptions - such as the elimination of a side agreement that would infuse domestic programs with an extra $54 billion. Senator Joe Manchin (WV) spoke out against the side deal and expressed his willingness to get rid of it.

Department of Labor ETA Nominee

On Tuesday, November 28, the Senate failed to advance President Biden’s nominee, Jose Javier Rodriguez, to lead the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). The chamber voted 44-51 in a procedural cloture vote to advance his nomination, but two Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Bob Menendez (NJ), voted against Rodriguez. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) changed his vote to no so that he can bring Rodriguez up for a vote again at a later date. Manchin expressed concern about Rodriguez’s political activism and “lack of experience.” While serving in the Florida Senate, Rodriguez proposed increasing the state’s unemployment benefits with larger checks and making gig workers eligible for jobless aid. Previous comments about the need to overhaul the country’s UI system to allow more Americans to qualify drew Republican opposition. Biden may now have to nominate someone else to lead the ETA.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Hearing

On Wednesday, November 29, the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held the hearing “Bad for Business: DOL’s Proposed Overtime Rule,” led by Subcommittee Chairman Congressman Kevin Kiley (CA). During the hearing, members heard witness testimony against the Labor Department’s overtime rule. Witnesses included Bush administration Wage and Hour Administrator Paul DeCamp and Bush Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Additional witnesses were Jagruti Panwala, Principal at Sita Ram LLC and Judy Conti, Director of Government Affairs for the National Employment Law Project. The DOL rule, which would bring time-and-a-half overtime pay to millions more workers, is expected to face legal challenges. Democrats including the committee’s ranking member, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA), have supported the rule.

Click here to access the recap of the hearing.

H-1B Visa Pilot Program

Starting in January, a limited number of H-1B workers will be able to renew their visas thanks to a new pilot program, which will initially be limited to 20,000 participants. The stateside visa renewal pilot program is one of many ways the State Department is trying to drive down wait times for travel to the U.S. The agency is also working to extend interview waivers for certain temporary visas and offer a digital visa for travel to the U.S. Since 2004, H-1B visa holders, often used in the tech industry, were forced to leave the country to renew their visas.

Initial Jobless Rate

In the week ending November 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 218,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 209,000 to 211,000. The 4-week moving average was 220,000, a decrease of 500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 220,000 to 220,500. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.3 percent for the week ending November 18, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate.

Click here to access the report.

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