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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - February 12, 2024

Poison Pills May Derail Appropriations Process

Washington Update


With the March 1 deadline to avert a government funding shutdown for the agencies covered by the Agriculture- FDA, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD bills less than three weeks ago, the House Appropriations Committee’s Ranking Member Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT) says she feels like everything is on track.  Representative Tom Cole (OK) who oversees the Transportation-HUD bill is similarly comfortable that members can come to an agreement amongst themselves.    Last week, the appropriate subcommittee Chairs and Ranking Members across the House and Senate held meetings to discuss their individual FY24 spending bills as bipartisan, bicameral talks began in earnest.  Policy riders remain a hurdle, however, and appropriators anticipate potential problems ahead.  DeLauro noted that the Labor-HHS-Education measure alone, which she oversees, contains nearly three dozen “poison pill” riders backed by House conservatives. Appropriators aren’t currently talking about the riders, but this will have to change come late February.

CHIPS and Science Act

On Monday, February 12, the Biden administration announced that it’s awarding more than $42 million  in grants to AT&T, Verizon and other entities through its National Telecommunication and Information Administration's Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund.  The funding will be used to create a new R&D hub for 5G wireless innovation within the U.S. and comes  from a $1.5 billion pot of subsidies slated under the CHIPS and Science Act enacted in 2022. Today’s award is the final spending from the fund’s first $140 million tranche that the Commerce Department began handing out last year.   This investment will support innovations in energy efficiency and artificial intelligence and also develop open radio access networks, or open RAN — wireless technology seen as critical to compete with economic rivals like China.  

Also, on Friday, February 9, the White House announced its intent to invest $5 billion in semiconductor-related research, development and workforce needs through the establishment of the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), which will conduct research and prototyping of advanced semiconductor technology as well as train workers for the sector. Funded through the Chips and Science Act, the NSTC will invest hundreds of millions into workforce development and funding research grants. Part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, these investments will advance U.S. leadership in semiconductor R&D, cut down on the time and cost of commercializing new technologies, bolster U.S. national security, and connect and support workers in securing good semiconductor jobs. The NSTC, a public-private consortium, will bring together and support government, industry, labor, customers, suppliers, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, and investors to accelerate the pace of new innovations, lower barriers to participation in semiconductor R&D and address the needs for a skilled, diverse semiconductor workforce.

Click here to read the White House press release.

Affordable Child Care

Almost three dozen senators and over 130 House lawmakers say they are looking for ‘robust’ child care funding in FY24 funding legislation as well as future supplemental funding packages. Without additional investments by the federal government, child care will remain “unaffordable and hard to find for working families, and child care providers will continue to struggle to stay afloat,” lawmakers claimed in their letter to Congressional leaders. 

Click here to read the affordable child care letter.

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending February 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 218,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 3,000 from 224,000 to 227,000. The 4-week moving average was 212,250, an increase of 3,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 207,750 to 208,500. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.2 percent for the week ending January 27, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate.

Click here to read the full report.

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