CHIPS+ Bill to Biden for Signature
On Thursday, July 28, the Senate unveiled all 12 of its FY23 spending bills that propose a more than 10 percent increase in non-defense spending and a nearly 9 percent increase in defense funding. It proposes spending $15.35 billion for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) – a $939 million increase from FY22 and $799 million less than President Biden’s request. The legislation would increase workforce development by building out Pell grants, including by making the largest increase to the award amount since fiscal 2009 by hiking it to $7,395; and by making DACA and Temporary Protected Status students eligible. It would boost the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grants to $2.96 billion - $80 million more than FY22 – and registered apprenticeships to $303 million, which is $65 million over FY22. Job Corps would also see an increase of $25 million to $1.774 billion. The Child Care Development Block Grant program would get $7.17 billion, $1 billion more than it did in fiscal 2022 and enough to expand access to a total of 2 million children. An additional $12.04 billion — also $1 billion over fiscal 2022 — would go to Head Start programs, $596 million of which would pay for cost-of-living increases for teachers and staff. Preschool Development Grants would get an additional $60 million, for a total of $350 million.
The Senate hasn’t announced plans to mark up any of the 12 bills introduced and, likely, action on those bills won’t take place until September – after the August recess. The House has already advanced its FY23 spending bills out of committee, but only a handful of measures have passed on the House floor. Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (VT) said he hopes releasing the bills lays out the Democrats funding priorities and helps leaders negotiate a bipartisan compromise, however, there’s a lot of pushback from Republicans on the bills. GOP appropriators feel funding levels are too high, and oppose Democrats’ attempts to repurpose funding already appropriated for construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, as well as their effort to forgo the Hyde amendment ban on using federal funds for abortions, as well as other abortion prohibitions. Top Republican appropriators also reject Democrats’ plans to allow the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, fund environmental justice work, and provide $1.6 billion for the Green Climate Fund. A stopgap spending bill is likely needed to extend funding past the September 30 expiration date for FY22 government spending.
Click here to access the Senate bills.
President Biden is expected to sign the $280 billion CHIPS+ Act after the bill passed the House (on a vote of 243 to 187) and Senate (on a vote of 64-33) last week. The legislation would incentivize American manufacturers to produce semiconductor chips in the U.S. and potentially create 1.1 million jobs over the next six years. The shortage of microchips and semiconductors has helped to spike high prices for automobiles and other goods in recent months. The bill provides $52 billion to subsidize funding for semiconductors, coupled with $24 billion in manufacturing tax credits to support the industry. In addition, the bill will provide billions in funding for semiconductor research and workforce development. It includes about $100 billion in authorizations over five years for programs such as expanding the National Science Foundation’s work in establishing regional technology hubs to support start-ups in areas of the country that haven’t traditionally drawn big funding for tech.
The pared down version of the bill is missing some provisions that would have enhanced federal support for STEM education and training – something that was in both the House and Senate bills. The House bill would have expanded Pell grant eligibility to students pursuing short-term career-training programs. The provisions were removed after Senate leadership decided a conference between the two chambers on the bills wouldn’t reach agreement before the August recess.
On Thursday, July 14, the U.S. Conference of Mayors sent a letter supporting the legislation.
Click here to read the letter.
Click here to access the CHIPS+ bill.
Semiconductor Supply Chain: Policy Considerations from Selected Experts for Reducing Risks and Mitigating Shortages
On Tuesday, July 26, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the report “Semiconductor Supply Chain: Policy Considerations from Selected Experts for Reducing Risks and Mitigating Shortages.” The GAO interviewed 17 experts to gather their insights on policy considerations to reduce risks associated with semiconductor supply chains and mitigate future chip shortages. GAO found that all experts agreed that federal action is needed in the area of workforce development to reduce supply chain risks, according to a report published Tuesday. To prepare for future workforce development requirements, experts called on the government to advance training programs and immigration reform. Other areas that need government actions are international coordination, research and development, supply chain strengthening and manufacturing capacity. The experts also cited the need to determine federal priorities and enhance interagency collaboration in policy implementation to help mitigate risks and some of these policy priorities are national security, increased resilience and economic competitiveness. They also emphasized the need to implement policies in each of the identified areas since a single policy option would not be enough, according to the GAO report.
Click here to read the report.
White House Proposed Higher Education Rules
On Tuesday, July 26, the Biden Administration released another package of proposed higher education rules that target abuses at for-profit colleges and also implements the restoration of Pell grants for prisoners that Congress passed in 2020. The proposal would implement new funding restrictions on for-profit schools that Democrats passed last year as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. That law tightened the 90/10 rule, which prohibits for-profit colleges from deriving more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal sources. GI Bill benefits and Pentagon tuition assistance now count toward that limit, resolving what many veterans advocates had called a loophole. The Administration is also revising the procedures for colleges that convert from for-profit to nonprofit status. The new rules make it more difficult for some institutions to convert to nonprofit status in cases where a former owner may financially benefit. Colleges would also be required to notify students about the change in ownership.
The rules also carry out the restoration of Pell grants to students who are taking postsecondary education classes while they’re incarcerated. Congress, as part of a bipartisan deal, agreed to remove the federal ban on incarcerated students receiving Pell grants in December 2020. The Obama, Trump and Biden administrations have all operated a pilot program to expand Pell to those students on a limited basis. The Department of Education will accept public comment on the proposed rules for 30 days and officials want to finalize rules by November 1, so they can take effect by next July.
Click here to read the Department of Education’s fact sheet on the proposals.
Department of Labor Nomination
On Wednesday, July 27, President Biden announced he will nominate the acting head of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and House Division, Jessica Looman, to serve in the role on a permanent basis. The nomination comes after the administration’s high-profile failure to confirm David Weil, who held the position under the Obama Administration. Weil was a sharp critic of ride-shares such as Uber and other gig-work companies, and his stance turned many GOP and business groups against him – arguing he would impede workplace innovation.
Initial Jobless Rate
In the week ending July 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 256,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 10,000 from 251,000 to 261,000. The 4-week moving average was 249,250, an increase of 6,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 2,500 from 240,500 to 243,000. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.0 percent for the week ending July 16, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.
Click here to access the report.