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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - July 17, 2023

House Labor-HHS-Ed Bill Slashes Funding; Su Confirmation in Jeopardy


Washington Update


Appropriations


On Friday, July 14, the House Appropriations Committee held a subcommittee markup of the FY24 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) bill. While the legislation advanced out of subcommittee, the odds of it getting through the Senate are slim. The bill cut spending by $60.3 billion, which is 29 percent of current levels. For the Department of Labor (DOL), it proposed $9.8 billion - $4 billion below current spending levels and far from the President’s request of $15.1 billion. The bill reduces funding for DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Wage and Hour Division, and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs by a total of 18 percent. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would see its budget reduced by a third to $200 million, which would force sizable layoffs and other cutbacks should it pass. It would also eliminate programs such as Job Corps, Senior Community Service Employment Program, and Youth Training programs. Additionally, it would eliminate the International Labor Affairs Bureau and Women’s Bureau.

The bill would provide $67.4 billion to the Department of Education (Ed), which is $12.1 billion below the FY23 enacted level and $22.6 below Biden’s request. It reduced funding by $14.7 billion (80%) for Title I grants for states with schools in which children from low-income families make up at least 40 percent of enrollment. It maintains funding for career and technical training grants that support local programs for students who are not seeking a college degree. It also maintains funding for Pell Grants at the maximum amount of $6,335.

Top Senate GOP Appropriator Susan Collins (ME) says the Upper Chamber is aiming to approve all 12 spending bills in committee before August recess in two weeks. This Thursday, July 20, the Senate is expected to mark up Transportation-HUD, Energy-Water, and State-Foreign Operations, which leaves the toughest ones, like Labor-HHS-Education and Defense, to be tackled last.

Click here to access the bill summary.

Click here to access the bill text.

Click here to access the Committee’s press release.

Department of Labor Su Nomination

On Thursday, July 13, Senator Mark Kelly (AZ) came out in support of acting Labor Secretary Julie Su but, soon after, Senator Joe Manchin (WV) announced his opposition to her confirmation - eliminating any leeway the Administration has to secure her appointment. In Manchin’s Thursday statement he touted Su’s ‘impressive’ credentials, but explained he ultimately decided to vote against her over ‘genuine concern’ regarding ideology. It is not clear if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) will bring Su’s nomination to the Senate floor. The White House has indicated a second key holdout, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), is also in opposition; however the Administration has not yet given up on Su.

Meanwhile, House Education and Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx (NC) has asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for clarity on the legality of Su’s continued service as acting secretary. Senator Bill Cassidy (LA), top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, also warned the Administration against allowing her to indefinitely serve as acting Labor secretary if she is unable to be confirmed.

Click here to access Manchin’s statement.

Data for American Jobs Act of 2023

On Thursday, July 13, Senators Tammy Baldwin (WI), Todd Young (IN), and Tim Kaine (VA) introduced the bipartisan legislation Data for American Jobs Act of 2023 to support career and technical education (CTE) and expand pathways to good-paying jobs. The legislation would ensure that the Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences appropriately incorporates CTE into its research and data collection agenda and empowers states to better use data to inform education and workforce development policy. It would also support state efforts to more effectively use education and workforce data to inform education and workforce development policy.

Click here to access the full press release on the bill.

Click here to access a one-pager on the bill.

Click here to access the full text of the bill.

Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act

On Tuesday, July 11, Senators Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (WV) reintroduced the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act (PCHETA), which would support hospice and palliative care training programs for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and chaplains by expanding continuing education and career development programs and incentives in these fields. The legislation would establish fellowships through new palliative care and hospice education centers to provide short-term, intensive training, as well as incentivized award programs across all the relevant disciplines. It includes provisions for additional training for medical school faculty and other health care educators, as well as provider resources for workforce development and nurse retention projects. The bill would also create new avenues for raising public awareness of hospice and palliative care.

Click here to access the press release on the bill.

Child Care Development Fund Proposed Rule

On Tuesday, July 11, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a proposed rule to amend the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), a signature child care funding stream that is a key source of assistance for low-income families. The proposed rule, a result of the Administration’s executive order on strengthening the care economy, would make child care more accessible to thousands of families by modifying how states administer federal funds.

The proposed rule would cap child care copayments for families, making it no more than 7 percent of a family's income, and also allows states to waive copayments for those at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Additionally, states would be required to pay child care providers prospectively to reduce the upfront costs for providers. To make access easier for underserved families, it would require states to provide child care services through grants or contracts specifically for families with infants or toddlers, a child with a disability or children that require nontraditional hours for care.

The comment period on the proposed rule closes 45 days after July 13, when it was published, and it is expected to take effect 60 days from the date the final rule is published.

Click here to access the proposed rule.

Department of Labor Proposed Regulation

On Wednesday, July 10, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) submitted a proposed regulation to expand overtime protections, which means a public release of the proposed rule will follow in the coming weeks. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act workers are entitled to time-and-a-half rate pay for overtime unless they meet certain exceptions, including that they are on salary, make above a certain threshold and hold “bona fide executive, administrative, and professional” jobs. The DOL Wage and Hour Division has been working to update that criteria, which would effectively guarantee extra pay for up to millions of workers when they work additional hours.

Click here to access the proposed regulation.

Department of Education

The Education Department will be holding a virtual public hearing on student loan debt relief negotiated rulemaking under the Higher Education Act on Tuesday, July 18. The department will also put together a panel to review and discuss potential options for canceling student debt. This is all part of what will be a long process to realize President Biden’s backup student debt cancellation plan.

Click here for more information on the hearing.

On Friday, July 14, the U.S. Department of Education (Ed) announced it would begin notifying more than 800,000 borrowers that it would automatically forgive student loans for longtime borrowers on income-driven repayment plans - which are based on a borrower’s income, not the amount borrowed. The move is a one-time ‘fix’ for borrowers who ‘fell through the cracks’ due to inaccurate payment counts in the past.

Click here to access the press release from the Department of Education.

Initial Jobless Rate

In the week ending July 8, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 237,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 248,000 to 249,000. The 4-week moving average was 246,750, a decrease of 6,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 253,250 to 253,500. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.2 percent for the week ending July 1, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.

Click here to access the report.

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