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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - January 9th, 2023

Republican Leadership To Determine House Committee Chairs Today

Washington Update

Congressional Leadership

On Saturday, January 7, Kevin McCarthy (CA) became Speaker of the House after six Republican holdouts voted ‘present,’ allowing him to secure the position on the 15th ballot with a lower majority threshold, ending the longest speakership process in over 150 years. The delay in picking a Speaker postponed the lower chamber’s selection of chairs for committees, including the House Education and Labor Committee, which Republicans are expected to rename the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Top contender for the seat, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (NC), secured a waiver in December that allows her to circumvent GOP term-limit rules to potentially lead the committee again, but she has competition from Congressman Tim Walberg (MI). Although it’s not clear, specifically, what Speaker McCarthy promised in order to win over his entrenched detractors, he may have endorsed some of them for committee gavels. Representative Andy Harris (MD), for example, wants to lead the Labor-HHS-Education spending panel. The Republican Steering Committee is scheduled to meet today to finalize committee chairs and assignments for the 118th Congress. As part of the negotiations to secure his The Senate is not in session this week.

Biden Nominees

On Tuesday, January 3, President Joe Biden tapped Susan Tsui Grundmann to serve as chair of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), which oversees labor-management disputes across the federal government. The position opened up in 2023 when previous chair Ernest DuBester’s nomination for another term was not taken up by the Senate before the end of 2022. DuBester, as well as others in the same position, would have to be renominated by President Biden and restart the confirmation process entirely. This somewhat commonplace occurrence is one of several things critics cite as evidence the confirmation process needs to be fixed, especially since many public servants even withdraw their names as a result of delays. The White House renominated those willing to continue to wait, including Kalpana Kotagal to serve on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Karla Gilbride to be the EEOC’s general counsel, and Cathy Harris to chair the Merit Systems Protection Board. Not on the list were DuBester or Jessica Looman, whom Biden nominated last year to lead the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. The Democratic Senate majority going from 50 to 51 means committees are no longer split, lowering the chances of deadlocked votes, which was a source of confirmation delays the past two years.

Unemployment Rate

On Friday, January 6, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the December jobs report, which showed that the U.S. economy added 223,00 jobs last month with the unemployment rate falling to 3.5% - better than economists predicted. In 2022, the U.S. economy added 4.5 million new jobs, an average monthly increase of 375,000. The unemployment rate declined overall in December, but rose for Black women and Hispanic men with Black women seeing an increase to 5.5% from 5.2% in November and Hispanic men rising to 4% from 3.6%.

Click here to access the report.

Click here to read Secretary Walsh’s statement on the December jobs report.

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