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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - January 29, 2024

Appropriators Reach Deal on Funding Totals

Washington Update


On Friday, January 26, Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (WA) and House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger (TX) reached a deal on the totals for the dozen government spending bills, but neither has released the numbers for the bill totals. This followed the announcement in early January that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (LA) had reached a deal on a government funding framework. Lawmakers can now negotiate the funding points of each individual bill. The House was out for recess last week, but lawmakers added three days back to their calendar ahead of the next government funding deadline. House lawmakers now expect to hold votes on February 28 through March 1, in a change from the previous schedule. Funding for the departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, Energy, and others expires on March 1. Funding for the rest of government, including Labor- Education-HHS runs out on March 8.

Expanding Access to Mental Health Services in Schools Act of 2024

On Monday, January 29, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) are expected to announce the bipartisan bill “Expanding Access to Mental Health Services in Schools Act of 2024” to expand the number of mental health professionals in schools. The legislation would authorize grants to school districts and states to hire, recruit and train mental health professionals for schools. Specifically, it targets grants to high-need school districts with large ratios of students to school counselors and other mental health professionals. The grants would build on the more than $570 million of funding that Congress approved as part of the 2022 bipartisan gun safety law.

Click here to access the legislation.

House Education and Workforce Committee Hearing

On Thursday, January 18, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, adn Secondary Education held a hearing titled “Preparing Students for Success in the Skills-Based Economy.” During the hearing lawmakers heard from witnesses on how career and technical education (CTE) programs, including those supported under Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, can be better integrated into K-12 education to give young Americans the tools they need to succeed in postsecondary education and in-demand careers. Witnesses for the hearing included: Executive Director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Danny Corwin, Career and Technical Education Supervisor for Clay County District Schools Kelly Mosley, Executive Director of College and Career Pathways for Maryland State Department of Education Richard Kincaid, and Strategic Development Manager for Performance Contractors, Inc. Brandon Mabile.


Click here to access a recap of the hearing.

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Hearing

On Wednesday, January 17, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation held a hearing titled “Toward an AI-Ready Workforce.” The hearing was held to review challenges the government has boosting the AI workforce. The hearing mainly focused on alternative hiring paths to the traditional four-year college education to bridge the skills gap and find qualified candidates. Witnesses testified that the government is not moving fast enough toward a skills-based workforce management system and risks losing qualified AI employees unless changes are made. Hearing witnesses included: Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University Dr. William L. Scherlis, Client Partner and Senior Executive for West Virginia at IBM Timi Hadra, Senior Advisor and Coursera and Former President of Yale University Dr. Richard Levin, and Director of GWU Cyber Security and Privacy Research Institute Dr. Costis Toregas. 

Click here to learn more about the hearing.

White House and Workforce Development in Advanced Manufacturing

On Tuesday, January 23, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new commitments to workforce development from the Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Sprint, which was first announced by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in May, 2023. More than 160 organizations are participating in the Sprint, which is an intensive drive to build a diverse, skilled pipeline of workers for good advanced manufacturing jobs, including union jobs, many of which do not require a four-year college degree.

Click here to read the full press release.

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending January 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 214,000, an increase of 25,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 187,000 to 189,000. The 4-week moving average was 202,250, a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 203,250 to 203,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.2 percent for the week ending January 13, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. 

Click here to access the report.

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