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Possible Cuts to Federal Investments in Workforce Training

Washington Update

Infrastructure Deal/Budget Resolution Package

On Monday, July 26, a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators is expected to announce details of the $579 billion infrastructure deal. The group came to an agreement to pay for the package by delaying a costly Medicare regulation implemented under President Trump. Negotiators aren’t finished yet – they are still working out funding levels for transit systems and Senator Tom Carper (DE) has said he would object to the measure if it doesn't include more money for water and sanitation. While many Senators are hopeful a final bill will be ready Monday, there are still areas that remain unresolved - such as spending on highways, water projects, broadband, and public transit.

On Sunday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reiterated that the House will not take up an infrastructure package unless the Senate also passes a separate $3.5 trillion social spending package. Senator Rob Portman expressed his displeasure with Pelosi’s remarks stating that they are ‘entirely counter to what President Biden has committed to’ and inconsistent with the bipartisan agreement.

President Biden’s proposed $100 billion investment in job training is in trouble as Senate Democrats have proposed cutting the investment down to $30 billion. The federal workforce system has consistently seen decreases in federal funding over the years and $30 billion would only bring programs up to 2001 levels – far below what experts say is needed to get people back to work after the pandemic.

The funding Biden wants in his American Jobs Plan would be used for workforce development programs targeting high school students and oft-neglected populations. While it isn’t clear exactly which Senators are pushing for a decrease in workforce funding, according to sources it is an effort to reduce the cost of the infrastructure plan. On Thursday, July 22, House Education and Labor Chair Bobby Scott (VA), Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR) held a remote press conference to highlight the importance of investing in workforce development. The issue is a top priority for Walsh.

So far Congress has only invested $345 million in workforce development to address the effects of the pandemic – far below the $6 billion it appropriated to respond to the Great Recession. A group of more than 80 Democrats is pressing Congressional leadership for a set of broad “transformative” investments in a Civilian Climate Corps they want to be included in the upcoming reconciliation package. Robust funding for a national jobs program for young people that also addresses climate change has been a top task of progressive organizations as part of infrastructure talks. President Biden has endorsed the corps idea, calling for a $10 billion investment in his American Jobs Plan and seeking $86 million in his FY22 budget request.

On July 22, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Congressman Steven Horsford sent a letter with 101 Members of the House of Representatives to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer requesting that at least $100 billion in new spending for workforce development be included in the upcoming reconciliation package.

Their letter requests that any legislative package that focuses on American jobs and families include robust funding for workforce development programs, including programs for adult workforce training and dislocated workers, career and technical education, and youth career pipeline programs.

Also, on June 21, The U.S. Conference of Mayors sent a letter to House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (KY) citing workforce funding as a critical priority for the nation’s mayors in the budget resolution.

Click here to read Representative Krishnamoorthi's Dear Colleague Letter.

Click here to read the USCM letter to Budget Chairman John Yarmuth.

Click here to watch the full press conference.

Click here to access the Democratic letter on a civilian climate corps.

Debt Ceiling

The Congressional Budget Office has suggested lawmakers have until October or November to raise or suspend the debt limit despite its expiration on July 31, giving lawmakers more time to address the issue and avoid default. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) expressed doubts that any Republicans would vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling and urged Democrats to include the measure in their budget reconciliation package, which could pass the Senate with united Democratic support. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned the government could reach its borrowing limit quickly as a two-year suspension passed by Congress in 2019 is set to expire at the end of the month.

Investing in America’s Communities

On Thursday, July 22, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced six programs, collectively called Investing in America’s Communities, that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will execute to equitably invest $3 billion received from President Biden’s America Rescue Plan. This investment is the largest economic development initiative from the Department of Commerce in decades and will help communities across America build back better.

The six program initiative includes:

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge, with an investment of $1 billion, will capitalize on American ingenuity and American workers by providing a transformational investment in regions across the country to revitalize their economies.

The Good Jobs Challenge, a $500 million investment, is designed to help get Americans back in good-paying jobs and will develop and strengthen regional workforce training systems and sector-based partnerships with a focus on programs targeted at women, people of color and historically underserved communities.

The Economic Adjustment Assistance grants, totaling $500 million, will help hundreds of communities across the nation plan, build, innovate, and put people back to work through projects tailored to meet local needs.

The Indigenous Communities program, with an investment of a $100 million, will work hand-in-hand with Tribal Governments and Indigenous communities to develop and execute economic development projects they need to recover from the pandemic and build economies for the future.

The Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation program, a $750 million investment, will focus on revitalizing the hard-hit travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries and accelerate the recovery of communities that rely on these sectors.

The Statewide Planning, Research and Networks grants, totaling $90 million, includes funding for state planning efforts as well as grants to build Communities of Practice to extend technical assistance to support EDA’s work with grantees.

Click here to sign up for the EDA July 27 webinar to learn more about ARP funding opportunities.

Click here to sign up for the EDA July 29 webinar to learn more about ARP funding opportunities.

Click here to learn more about Investing in America’s Communities initiatives.

Senate HELP Committee

On Wednesday, July 21, the full Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted in favor of advancing the nominations of Roberto Rodriguez to be Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the Department of Education and Elizabeth Brown to be General Counsel of the Department of Education. Due to scheduling conflicts, the committee did not vote on the nominations of Catherine Lhamon to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education or the nominations of David Weil to be the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. The nominees now will head to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

Department of Education

This week, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley will start a temporary advisor position with the Department of Education on higher education policy. As Chancellor, Oakley oversees one of the largest community college systems in the country. He is expected to return to his post in the late fall, with Deputy Chancellor Daisy Gonzales serving as acting chancellor until then. The announcement comes as negotiations over President Biden’s infrastructure plans, which pitches two years of free community college for all Americans, are gaining traction in Congress.

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending July 17, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 419,000, an increase of 51,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 8,000 from 360,000 to 368,000. The 4-week moving average was 385,250, an increase of 750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 2,000 from 382,500 to 384,500. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4 percent for the week ending July 10, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.

Click here to access the full report.

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