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Advocacy & Policy Update - June 15, 2020

SUPPORT GROWS FOR FOURTH STIMULUS


WASHINGTON UPDATE


Fourth Stimulus Package

President Trump has indicated he wants $2 trillion in the next coronavirus relief package, and would like to see a ‘critical’ payroll tax cut and focus on bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. in the proposal.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) has stressed to the President, however, that his preference would be a smaller package with no more than $1 trillion in aid. Senate Republicans have rejected the $3 billion price tag for the HEROES Act — the stimulus bill passed in the House last month.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also advocated for another COVID-19 relief package in testimony last week before the Senate Small Business Committee, saying unemployment was too high and that administration officials wanted to work on further economic incentives. He suggested changes to the Paycheck Protection Program and tax credits. In addition, in a Friday, June 12, report to Congress, the Federal Reserve warned that struggling small businesses may need more government support, citing a wide variety of data that reveals ‘an alarming picture of small business health during the Covid-19 crisis.’

Senate Republicans feel optimistic after last week’s unexpectedly positive jobs report and have signaled they will not pass another bill before late July. Majority Leader McConnell has told Republicans he viewed the next work period - which runs from July 20 to Aug. 7 - as the time to take up and pass a bill, setting up a crucial three-week window. Republicans say they need more time to evaluate how the total of nearly $3 trillion already approved by Congress is being used, arguing that moving quickly would be fiscally irresponsible.

Click here to access the Federal Reserve report.

Appropriations

Senate Republicans are expressing concern that tensions between President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) could lead to a government shutdown fight just before the November election, potentially harming their slim majority. GOP lawmakers want to avoid any spending standoff and possible government shutdown right before the election.  

The Senate has not yet passed any of the 12 appropriations bills. In the House, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (NY) announced she intends to hold all subcommittee and full committee markups the weeks of July 6 and July 13. There seems to be strong support from Senate Republicans for legislation that would prevent a government shutdown even if the annual appropriations bills haven’t been passed, but it faces an uphill battle in securing support from Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) and other Democrats who worry that automatically defaulting to long-term stopgap spending measures could take pressure off Congress to pass new spending bills every year.

Department of Education

On Friday, May 29, The U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the approval of nine additional career and technical education (CTE) state plans under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which was signed into law by President Trump in 2018.  Each state crafted a plan to fulfill its promise of offering a robust CTE option for students, following consultation with its key constituents representing education and workforce, business and industry, and parents and community leaders. One week earlier, the Secretary announced the first six state plan approvals, and more plans will be approved on a rolling basis. The Department’s press releases highlight several noteworthy elements from each of the approved plans. States must periodically review and revise their plans throughout the four-year period, as necessary, to reflect changes in the state’s goals and strategies.

Click here to read the full press release.

Click here for more details about the plans.

H-1B Visas According to Trump administration officials, the White House is considering suspending several employment-based immigration visas, including H-1B visas, as part of a series of executive actions to limit legal immigration. The move would be the latest effort in a series of executive actions limiting immigration that administration officials say are needed to prevent sick people from entering the country and ensuring Americans get jobs first, though lawmakers and businesses, particularly tech companies and companies that employ seasonal labor, argue it would weaken economic growth.

Initial Jobless Claims

On Thursday, June 11, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the unemployment insurance weekly claims. In the week ending June 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,542,000, a decrease of 355,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 20,000 from 1,877,000 to 1,897,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,002,000, a decrease of 286,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 4,250 from 2,284,000 to 2,288,250. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 14.4 percent for the week ending May 30, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from the previous week's revised rate.

This suggests that some Americans are still being pushed out of work nearly three months into the pandemic. Additionally, nearly 706,000 people applied for benefits under the new temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program created for people who are ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits. The latest numbers indicate that the coronavirus-induced recession has forced roughly 44 million workers to seek unemployment aid in just 12 weeks. The continued high levels of new jobless claims could be in part due to state unemployment agencies struggling to process the deluge of applications, some economists suggest.

Click here to read the full report.

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©2020 by The U.S. Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council.

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