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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - July 3, 2023

Short-Term Continuing Resolution Possible


Washington Update


Appropriations


Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) has already predicted that lawmakers will end up with a continuing resolution (CR) that has some assistance for Ukraine, defense spending, and other ‘must-do’ items. While stopgap bills and emergency supplemental spending packages may still be used, Congress is less likely to resort to its usual 12-bill omnibus package this year, since House conservatives have been extremely vocal about avoiding a dozen-measure package. Congressman Tom Cole (OK) also predicts lawmakers will break the habit of quickly negotiating final bills and clearing an omnibus package.

Department of Labor


On Wednesday, June 28, Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su delivered the opening remarks at the Department of Labor’s Job Quality Academy summit in Washington, a three-day meeting to promote job quality in communities across the country. Su highlighted her agency’s investments to create and support good, quality jobs. Her remarks were part of the broader Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America tour that touts the Administration's infrastructure agenda and the jobs it will create. Acting Secretary Su, however, has not participated in President Biden’s “Investing in America” publicity tour while she awaits Senate confirmation.


On Monday, June 26, the President began the second round of the tour with the announcement of more than $40 billion to be distributed across the country to expand high-speed internet access. The funding is aimed at bolstering internet access particularly for the 7% of people who live in underserved areas. Taking place over the next three weeks, President Biden, Vice President Harris, First Lady Jill Biden, Cabinet members, and Senior Administration Officials will travel across the country to show how the legislation passed under the Biden-Harris Administration, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and CHIPS and Science Act, is benefiting communities. Acting Secretary Su was excluded from the White House fact sheet on the tour, with the White House commenting that there were no plans for Su and the Labor Department to participate.


Click here to read the White House fact sheet on the tour.

EDA Recompete Pilot Program Funding Opportunity


On Thursday, June 29, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced it is now accepting applications for the new $200 million Recompete Pilot Program. The initiative is designed to make focused investments in communities most in need of economic resources and options so that all communities have a path to economic prosperity. This is predicated on the belief that communities know best what they need to address persistent economic distress. EDA will partner with local communities and make large, flexible investments based on their priorities. This program, authorized through the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, targets areas where prime-age (25-54 years) employment significantly trails the national average, with the goal to close this gap through bottom-up, long-term strategies that tackle a community’s unique economic challenges. EDA will host two informational webinars on Friday, July 7 and Tuesday, July 11, about the Recompete Pilot Program.


This first Recompete Pilot Program NOFO allows applicants to apply for (1) Strategy Development Grants, (2) approval of a Recompete Plan, or (3) both. EDA anticipates awarding approximately $6 million to $12 million in total for Strategy Development Grants and approving at least 20 Recompete Plans at the conclusion of Phase 1. Applicants with approved Recompete Plans will be invited to submit a Phase 2 application. EDA expects to announce Phase 1 winners and release the Phase 2 NOFO in winter 2023. In Phase 2, applicants can apply for larger implementation awards. EDA expects to make approximately 4-8 implementation investments, with awarded regions receiving between $20 million and $50 million on average. The Phase 1 NOFO deadline is Thursday, October 5.


Click here to register for the July 7th at 12:00 pm EDT webinar.


Click here to register for the July 11th at 4:30 pm EDT webinar.


Click here to access the full NOFO.


Click here to access additional resources.

USDA & DOL Joint Letter


On Friday, June 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) released a letter encouraging SNAP State agencies and State and local workforce agencies and board to develop shared strategies that will better connect SNAP participants, particularly those who are subject to time-limited benefits, to employment and training opportunities through programs offered by American Job Centers (AJCs) as the pandemic related suspension of SNAP time-limited benefits for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) ends.

The common goal shared by FNS and ETA is to help people find sustainable employment - particularly those in historically underserved communities, which include many SNAP participants. Both the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as amended, underscore the importance of connecting low-income and other historically underserved individuals to meaningful training activities, breaking down barriers that may otherwise limit their success in the workforce.


Click here to access the full letter.

Department of Education


On Friday, June 30, the U.S. Department of Education (Ed) announced that, starting July 1st, it will launch a new process through which institutions of higher education can apply to offer post-secondary programs to confined or incarcerated individuals. As a result of the statutory changes enacted through the FAFSA Simplification Act, individuals enrolled in approved prison education programs (PEPs) will be eligible for Federal Pell Grants outside a limited pilot program known as the Second Chance Pell Experiment. Starting Monday, July 3, the Department will begin accepting applications from eligible institutions, which will be approved on a rolling basis, to offer PEP through the Federal Student Aid E-app. This is the first time in 30 years that incarcerated individuals will be eligible for Pell Grants to help pay for education. The Second Chance Pell Experient was a limited program but, based on current participation rates in the program, the Department estimates that full reinstatement of Pell could allow approximately 760,000 additional individuals to become eligible for a Pell Grant through prison education programs once institutions have fully developed their prison programs.


Regulatory requirements for PEPs, which were finalized last fall, build on the efforts of institutions and correctional facilities that have been collaborating to increase the number of incarcerated individuals with access to a quality post-secondary education. Eligible institutions must adhere to the standards for implementing effective PEPs established under the Department’s final regulations.


Click here to read the full press release.

Initial Jobless Claims


In the week ending June 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 239,000, a decrease of 26,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 264,000 to 265,000. The 4-week moving average was 257,500, an increase of 1,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the highest level for this average since November 13, 2021 when it was 260,000. The previous week's average was revised up by 250 from 255,750 to 256,000. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.2 percent for the week ending June 17, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.


Click here to access the report.

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