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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - July 1, 2024

Subcommittee Advances Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill


Washington Update


Appropriations


On Thursday, June 27, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) Subcommittee advanced the GOP proposal for FY25 – their largest non-defense funding bill for FY25. The spending measure provides $10.5 billion for the Department of Labor (a 23% cut), $72 billion (a 13 percent cut) for the Department of Education, and $107 for the Department of Health and Human Services (a 7 percent cut). In March, President Biden requested an additional $318 million in discretionary funding for DOL, which is currently funded at $13.5 billion for FY24. The proposal cuts $75 million from DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — a combined 12 percent cut to their respective budgets. It also seeks to decrease the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by a third of its funding — bringing its budget to $200 million.

The bill would block DOL from carrying out its rule aimed at preventing employers from misclassifying workers as independent contractors, rather than employees, and roll back a mandated pay increase, as well as a broader suite of labor protections for H-2A farmworkers.

Included in the proposal’s 13 percent reduction for the Department of Education is the elimination of 17 federal education programs. It would decrease Title I by $4.7 billion, a 25 percent cut which the committee says is a result of the declining test scores despite the infusion of expiring pandemic aid. The Department of Education would receive $1.5 billion to administer student aid programs, a 30 percent cut from current FY24 levels.

Early learning and care programs housed in the Department of Health and Human Services did see an increase in the GOP’s FY25 Labor-HHS-Education proposal with Head Start receiving roughly $12.296 billion — a $25 million increase over FY24 levels. Even with the increases, it still falls short of the $544 million increase sought by the White House. The Child Care and Development Block Grant sees a $25 million increase — bringing the funding level to roughly $8.7 billion — which is more than $250 million above Biden’s budget request.

House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (CT) said Democrats would not accept anything less than a 1 percent increase for Labor-HHS-Education, which was agreed upon in last year’s debt deal. The House proposal is sure to see a lot of debate, but the bills are not expected to clear Congress until after the election.The full committee is scheduled to take up the measure on Wednesday, July 10.

Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (WA) said the Senate will begin work on annual spending bills next month, despite the lack of bipartisan agreement on funding totals, with the committee’s first FY25 hearing to be held after July Fourth recess. In a floor speech, Murray expressed hope that both sides will resolve their weeks-long impasse over funding totals, which has affected all 12 FY25 spending bills. The two parties have not been able to come to an agreement on whether defense and domestic programs should receive equal budget increases. It is highly likely that Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown.


Click here to access the press release.


Click here to access a summary of the bill.


Click here to access the full bill.


WIOA Reauthorization


On Friday, June 21, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee staff provided a top line briefing on the discussion draft of their bill to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). USCM Workforce Development Council (WDC) members in attendance at the WDC Annual Meeting in Kansas City participated on the call. In the briefing, Senate staff requested specific comment on the draft by way of line-by-line replacement language for their legislative text before they finalize the bill.


Although the bill does not contain the 50% training mandate for all Title I Adult and Dislocated Worker funds that USCM opposed, which is a positive development, the Senate’s draft proposal doubles down on local area designation language in the House-passed A Stronger Workforce for America Act (ASWA) by giving governors even more power to consolidate and/or restructure local workforce development areas (LWDAs).


Additionally, the Senate discussion draft allows for an additional 10% of Title 1 funding for statewide activities to be set-aside for either Industry/Sector Partnerships or employer-based training activities. This clearly further limits funding to cities to address their needs and/or initiatives.


The Senate is accepting specific legislative language edits with the option to provide context and broader recommendations to streamline language. Below is a link to the Senate WIOA feedback template. The deadline for Senate comment is Friday, July 5th, at 5 p.m. ET.


Click here to access the discussion draft.


Click here to access the WIOA feedback template.


Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act


On Thursday, June 20, Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA) and Congressman Mark Pocan (WI), along with Senators Patty Murray (WA), Mazie Hirono (HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Jack Reed (RI), introduced the bicameral bill Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act of 2024. The legislation would nearly double the Pell Grant maximum award, index the maximum award for inflation, and make other changes to expand the award for working students and families. Additionally, the bill makes the Pell Grant funding fully mandatory to protect it from funding shortfalls, expands the program to include DREAMers, and restores lifetime eligibility for the program to 18 semesters, among other changes that will benefit students. The scheduled maximum Pell Grant for 2024-2025 is $7,395 and, under the current law, the cap on assistance will remain at this level in FY25. Under the new bill, the maximum Pell Grant will be increased to $10,000 for the 2025-2026 award year and nearly double the amount over a period of five years to $14,000. The bill will face tough GOP hurdles in the House.


Click here to access the full bill.


Click here to access the fact sheet on the bill.


Pathways to Prosperity Act


On Tuesday, June 18, Senators Raphael Warnock (GA) and Mike Braun (IN) introduced bipartisan legislation, The Pathways to Prosperity Act, which would create a federal grant program to help technical colleges and community colleges match their workforce development programs with community needs. The bill would help train students for good-paying jobs in fields where the federal government has been making investments, including clean energy, manufacturing, and health care. The legislation would provide competitive grants to community and technical colleges to support partnerships between those schools and employers. The partnerships would work to establish, improve, and expand the colleges’ workforce development programs to align with local industry needs. Warnock said he is looking to include the bill as a provision in WIOA reauthorization legislation now before the Senate.


Nation’s Mayors Release 2024 Election Priorities Next Congress and Administration


On Monday, June 24, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) released its 2024 election priorities, a bipartisan national issue platform that will drive the mayors’ advocacy at this summer’s Republican and Democratic national conventions and beyond. Release of the mayors’ policy roadmap for the next Congress and presidential administration comes one day after the conclusion of the 92nd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in Kansas City, where mayors spent four days collaborating on opportunities and challenges facing America’s cities.


The national priorities cover a full range of issues impacting American cities. Among them: ensuring affordable housing for all Americans, enacting common sense gun laws, increasing direct mental health funding for cities, expanding workforce training to meet future job demands, and protecting the environment. Mayors have been steadfast advocates for these priorities in recent years, seeing progress in the enactment of bipartisan legislation such as the American Rescue Plan Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, but more work remains to be done, especially to address the current affordable housing and mental health crises. The bipartisan group of mayors plans to carry their agenda to both Presidential and congressional candidates, calling on them to address Federal actions that impact people where they live.


Click here to read the full press release.


White House Report on Cyber Workforce


On Tuesday, June 25, the White House Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) released the report “National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy: Initial Stages of Implementation,” which outlines the progress and next steps in building the nation’s cyber workforce. The report provides an initial overview of the initial stages of the strategy’s implementation, including actions taken by Federal agencies and the private sector to strengthen the cyber workforce.


It outlines successes, such as “unprecedented coordination across the interagency,” according to Seeyew Mo, the assistant national cyber director for workforce, training, and education. A total of 35 federal departments and agencies participate in one or more of ONCD’s many working groups to support the objectives of the NCWES. Another key success of the Biden-Harris administration is removing unnecessary barriers to cyber careers and leading by example in skill-based hiring. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is leading this initiative, with a plan to transition IT positions to a fully skills-based approach by the summer of 2025. This pivot to a skills-based approach not only applies to Federal employees but also to Federal IT and cybersecurity contractors across the country.

The report also highlights the administration’s efforts identifying federal investments to fund Cyber Clinics and earn-and-learn Registered Apprenticeships programs — connecting more than 13,000 Americans with cyber apprenticeships nationwide.


The report says the Biden-Harris administration will work with stakeholders to hold cyber job fairs, with a focus on underrepresented populations in the cyber workforce — including women, people of color, and veterans, among others. Additionally, ONCD plans to keep up with the increasing demand for cyber talent. In FY2024, it will seek to expand cyber learning opportunities and “increase the capacity of K-12 systems and institutions of higher education to teach rigorous cybersecurity content.” Federal agencies will work with academia to expand cyber scholarship programs and further integrate cyber across academic disciplines. ONCD, in collaboration with OPM and the Federal Cyber Workforce Working Group (FCWWG), will also lead a hiring surge to fill open Federal cyber positions in FY2024 and conduct cyber sprints. ONCD plans to empower local efforts to connect individuals to cyber education and jobs, saying it plans to compile a cyber workforce and education ecosystem guide to include assistance for “community champions” looking to spark or support an ecosystem.


Click here to access the blog post accompanying the report.


Click here to access the full report.


Initial Jobless Claims


In the week ending June 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 233,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 238,000 to 239,000. The 4-week moving average was 236,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 232,750 to 233,000. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.2 percent for the week ending June 15, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.


Click here to access the full report.

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