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Advocacy & Policy Update - July 20, 2020




On Monday, July 30, the House Appropriations Committee advanced its FY21 funding bill for the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services along party lines. The funding measures would provide $12.67 billion in discretionary funding to the Department of Labor, $254 million more than FY20 and $1.49 billion more than President Trump requested. In addition to boosting funding for the Department, it also blocks implementation of the Administration’s joint employer rule. The Department of Education would receive $73.5 billion in FY20 - $716 million above the current level.

House Democrats will bundle four bills funding the Departments of Agriculture, State, Interior and Veterans Affairs, plus the EPA, FDA and military construction projects, which they plan to vote on sometime this week. The House is expected to pass a second minibus at the end of this month that would include bills for the Departments of Labor and Education, likely leaving the always contentious Homeland Security bill out. Hundreds of amendments are anticipated on the first package that will force floor debate on issues like renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders and banning President Trump from moving money to help build his border wall. In the Senate, leaders have not introduced text for any of the dozen annual funding measures – increasing the likelihood of a stopgap spending bill come September. 

Coronavirus Relief Bill

Congressional negotiations on a final coronavirus aid package are expected to begin in the coming days, with the shared goal of passage within three weeks. Currently, the House is set to depart for recess on July 31, with the Senate leaving the week after. The Administration has indicated it will sign a package with more money for education if the package takes ‘a very strong look at the White House’s proposal for emergency relief’ for schools as well as education freedom scholarships. Heated negotiations are expected on the final package. Republicans are pushing to shield businesses from being sued and make school funding contingent upon reopening, while the Democrats are calling for $1 trillion in state and local aid and want to renew the expiring unemployment benefits. Both sides, however, have expressed willingness to compromise.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) is expected to unveil a $1 trillion Republican version of a major COVID-19 relief measure this week that is expected to have a heavy emphasis on education and includes liability protections for hospitals and health care workers, businesses, colleges, universities, and kindergarten through 12th grade. On Wednesday, July 15, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine issued a report that recommended districts prioritize reopening schools full-time, particularly for kindergarten through fifth grade and for students with special needs.

Click here to access the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s report.

Department of Energy Better Buildings Initiative

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Initiative, the Department is in the process of developing a resource portal for those considering a career in energy management and are hoping to include and/or link to your resources. It is estimated there will be 2.3 million job openings for Commercial Building Professionals through 2026 as buildings and plants become an increasing part of our Nation’s energy grid.

The Department has heard from many partners in the Better Buildings Initiative and other stakeholders, that there is a lack of interested, skilled and available talent. To address this, DOE is hoping to engage and motivate the upcoming workforce (focusing on ages 17-35) to consider a career in energy management. Part of this effort is to list any and all resources available for those interested to take the first or next step. DOE is specifically looking to highlight: information and descriptions about the industry and different roles;  education programs; certification programs;  job training programs; and apprenticeship and internship opportunities. Below please find workforce related resources from DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program.


Initial Jobless Claims In the week ending July 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,300,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 4,000 from 1,314,000 to 1,310,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,375,000, a decrease of 60,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 2,250 from 1,437,250 to 1,435,000. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 11.9 percent for the week ending July 4, a decrease of 0.3 percentage point from the previous week's revised rate. 

Click here to read the full report.   

Click here to read the entire  July 20 weekly legislative update.

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