CHIPS+ Bill Expected To Pass Senate This Week
On Wednesday, July 20, the House of Representatives passed a six-bill spending bundle on a vote of 220-207 to fund much of the federal government when the new fiscal year starts on October 1. The $405 billion package contains half of the 12 annual funding bills but bipartisan agreement is needed or else the legislation for FY23 is going nowhere. Funding would rise for the departments covered under the Agriculture-FDA, Energy-Water, Transportation-HUD, Interior-Environment, Financial Services and Military Construction-VA spending measures. The bill also includes billions of dollars in earmarked funding for specific projects lawmakers requested. The House debated nearly 200 amendments to the package, rejecting dozens but adopting the majority. In a 199-229 vote, the chamber defeated a package of 13 Republican amendments that would have cut spending, including by reducing the measure’s overall funding by 5 percent, cutting the Transportation-HUD portion by 26 percent and shrinking the Agriculture-FDA title by 22 percent.
Lawmakers are still trying to negotiate final FY23 funding totals but odds are increasing that Congress will resort to a continuing resolution to fund current levels past the September 30 deadline. Democratic leaders in the House hope to pass three more of the dozen funding bills next week.
Last week the Senate released a massive legislative package, called “CHIPS+” that represents a compromise with the House on how to revamp the nation’s research system and compete with China and other countries. The bill combines provisions in the House-passed Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act and the Senate-passed U.S. Innovation and Competition (USICA) Act. After talks stalled earlier this month, the Senate considered advancing a narrower bill, however, the bicameral conference committee reached agreement. The bill appropriates $52 billion for semiconductor R&D and manufacturing and lays out expansion plans for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy, and National Institute of Standards and Technology. It also creates a semiconductor investment tax credit that is estimated to cost about $22 billion over five years. The bill redirects $200 million to NSF to fund new microelectronics workforce initiatives, which will support activities such as curriculum development, traineeships, faculty hiring, and a “National Network for Microelectronics Education.”
The Senate is expected to pass the bill on Wednesday but first it will hold a cloture vote Monday night, which will need the support of 60 senators. The House is expected to vote on the bill before it leaves for August recess. Some lawmakers are seeking last-minute additions that could complicate final passage of the bill, such as extra research security measures. USCM sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to complete negotiations and move competitiveness legislation last week.
Click here to read the letter.
Click here to access the CHIPS+ bill.
Top Walsh Aide Leaving DOL
Daniel Koh, chief of staff to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, is departing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for a position at the White House. On Tuesday, July 19, Koh confirmed he will serve as White House Deputy Cabinet secretary. Allison Zelman, currently Walsh’s deputy chief of staff, will take over Koh’s position when he leaves. Before joining Walsh’s team at DOL, Koh served as Walsh’s chief of staff when he was Mayor of Boston. Koh’s resume also includes working as chief of staff to Arianna Huffington at the Huffington Post, running in a Democratic primary bid for a Massachusetts congressional seat in 2018, and serving as chief operating officer at a workplace technology startup.
Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint
On Tuesday, July 19, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), in partnership with the White House and the U.S. Department of Commerce, announced a 120-Day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint in order to promote the Registered Apprenticeship model as a solution for numerous industries to develop and train a skilled cybersecurity workforce. This national campaign aims to encourage employers, industry associations, labor unions, and training providers to explore Registered Apprenticeship as a recruitment, training, and retention strategy, as well as connect with the DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship to develop new apprenticeship programs or quickly join existing programs. The sprint will continue until the end of National Apprenticeship Week which runs from November 14-20, 2022.
Currently, there are 714 registered apprenticeship programs and 42,260 apprentices in cybersecurity-related occupations. Since the start of the Biden-Harris administration, 199 new programs have been created. The Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint will build upon this progress and focus on creating new pathways for workers in cybersecurity or a related field through partnerships with K-12, higher education, workforce partners and training programs.
Click here to learn more about the initiative.
Click here to access the DOL press release.
Click here to read the White House fact sheet on the summit.
Farm Workforce Modernization Act
Senate negotiators are closer to reaching a deal on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, an immigration bill that mainly focuses on updating the food production workforce - an outdated system that has led to higher food prices, especially for dairy, meat and vegetables. Farmers say that, if passed, the bill could reduce food prices in part by helping them hire more workers by allowing them to hire temporary workers year-round. Currently, year-round employers can’t use the H-2A temporary agriculture program used by seasonal employers. Negotiators are stuck on a provision centered on whether those H-2A workers should be allowed to sue their employers if they believe labor laws have been broken. The American Farm Bureau Federation is the provision’s biggest opponent.
Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) unveiled the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act which would decriminalize weed on the federal level and allow states to set their own marijuana laws without fear of punishment from the federal government. The odds of passing the Senate are slim but it will shape the conversation around cannabis legalization going forward and portions of it could find their way into other bills that could pass before the end of the year. The bill establishes grant programs for small business owners entering the industry who are from communities disproportionately hurt by past drug laws, requires the Department of Transportation to research and develop a nationwide standard for marijuana- impaired driving, and restricts the marketing of cannabis to minors.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act tasks the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — along with the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health and Department of Health and Human Services — with issuing guidance on protections for cannabis workers and on certain training requirements on employers. The bill would also allow cannabis companies to apply for training grants administered by OSHA, and authorizes the labor secretary to distribute up to $15 million over five years to nonprofit organizations for community-based education for industry workers.
Click here to access the bill.
On Wednesday, July 20, the House Budget Committee held the hearing “Examining the Powerful Impact of Investments in Early Childhood for Children, Families, and Our Nation’s Economy” to examine federal early childhood spending. Several early education nonprofits, research and advocacy groups continued to criticize Congress for failing to advance a slimmer reconciliation spending package that includes President Biden’s “Build Back Better” package for child care and universal Pre-K programs. The First Five Years Fund, one of the organizations behind the statement, earlier this year commissioned polling that showed likely voters in seven battleground states said a reconciliation package should include efforts to reduce child care costs. Lowering the cost of child care, the pollsters said, rivaled the popularity of voters’ calls to address climate change and prescription drug prices in a reconciliation deal.
Click here to access the hearing.
Initial Jobless Rate
In the week ending July 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 251,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 244,000. The 4-week moving average was 240,500, an increase of 4,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 235,750 to 236,000. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.0 percent for the week ending July 9, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate.
Click here to access the report.