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Advocacy & Policy Update - July 13, 2020




On Tuesday, July 7, the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee advanced its FY21 funding proposal for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The full committee will mark up the bill next week, when amendments will be offered. The legislation provides $12.7 billion to the Department of Labor (DOL), $254 million more than FY20 and funds the Department of Education at $73.5 billion, $716 million above the current level.

The Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (ETA) would receive $10.2 billion, an increase of $187 million. Approximately $3 billion of that would go to Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Grants, which is $50 million more from FY20; another $1.76 billion would go to Job Corps, an increase of $12 million. Markedly, $2.6 billion of ETA funds would be set aside for the Unemployment Insurance program, $109 million more than FY20. More than $900 million would go to states to help agencies address spiking unemployment claims.

DOL agencies dealing with worker protection would receive a slight increase under the bill with the Wage and Hour Division being funded at $246 million, a $4 million increase, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would receive $594 billion, an increase of $12 million above FY20 levels. DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service would receive $246 million, the same as FY20. It would also include $5.9 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, an increase of $100 million above FY20. 

The legislation rejects most of the cuts to education spending that Trump’s budget proposed. The bill includes $1.3 billion for after-school programs, $1.2 billion for student support and academic enrichment grants under Title IV of ESSA, and $2.2 billion for teacher training grants under Title II-A of ESSA — all of which were zeroed-out in Trump’s budget. It also discards the President’s proposal to consolidate 29 federal elementary and secondary education programs into a $19.4 billion block grant program.

It would block Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from carrying out her new Title IX regulations governing sexual misconduct in schools and colleges, which are scheduled to take effect next month. It would propose changes to the federal 90/10 rule, which imposes a cap on the amount of federal student aid that can flow to for-profit colleges. Under the bill, for-profit colleges’ receipt of all federal funds — including most GI Bill money — would be capped at 85 percent, up from the current 90 percent.

House Democrats released the funding breakdown for FY21 spending bills, showing how they have divided nearly $1.3 trillion in discretionary funding among the 12 bills. The House Appropriations Committee will approve the spending measures at these 302(b) levels for discretionary funding:

Agriculture-FDA: $24 billion Commerce-Justice-Science: $71.5 billion Defense: $626.2 billion Energy-Water: $49.6 billion Financial Services: $24.6 billion Homeland Security: $50.7 billion Interior-EPA: $36.8 billion Labor-HHS-Education: $182.9 billion Legislative Branch: $5.3 billion Military Construction-VA: $102.6 billion State-Foreign Operations: $47.9 billion Transportation-HUD: $75.9 billion

In the Senate, appropriations leaders have yet to release any of their 12 spending bills or announce plans for marking up those measures. Even though House Democrats are moving forward with updated funding levels for FY21, lawmakers are likely to resort to a short-term stopgap spending bill this fall that continues funding at current levels beyond the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year.

Click here to access the full legislation.

Coronavirus Relief Bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) are each starting to lay down their terms for the next coronavirus package. McConnell wants the next package to include protections for children and jobs, and reform liability laws so entities can’t get sued. Democrats are pushing for state and local government relief, additional unemployment insurance and direct payments, and increases in testing. One of the most contentious points will be the safe reopening of schools, with Democrats urging restraint while President Trump and the House Freedom Caucus favor reopening.  Democrats have proposed a nearly $350 billion plan that Republicans feel is too high and want to cap at $1 trillion - something Speaker Pelosi has flat-out rejected. Both parties agree that a package will get passed by the end of the month and Congress adjourned for a two-week recess - that doesn’t leave a lot of time to negotiate the massive bill. The Senate is set to come back into session on Monday, July 20. 

GI Bill On Thursday, July 9, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it would not seek to suspend GI Bill student enrollment at the University of Phoenix, Colorado Technical University, American InterContinental University, Bellevue University and Temple University. To avoid suspension the schools cooperated with the Department’s compliance reviews, provided restitution to impacted students, made marketing practice and personnel changes, university leadership changes, renewed annual training for school employees and improved oversight of communications with students. Initial Jobless Claims In the week ending July 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,314,000, a decrease of 99,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 14,000 from 1,427,000 to 1,413,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,437,250, a decrease of 63,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 3,500 from 1,503,750 to 1,500,250. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 12.4 percent for the week ending June 27, a decrease of 0.5 percentage point from the previous week's revised rate. Click here to read the full report. 

Click here to read the entire July 13 weekly legislative update.

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