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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - June 21, 2021.

House Introduces TAA Reauthorization Bill


Washington Update


Appropriations

This week, the House Appropriations Committee plans to start marking up its 12 annual spending bills and hopes to move them all out of committee over a five-week period. The committee expects to wrap up FY22 markups by July 16, with House floor action to follow next month. Now that earmarks are back, House lawmakers have submitted hundreds of funding requests for FY22 spending bills. Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (VT) said he hopes to begin markups in July. Even though the House is expected to pass all its funding bills before the deadline, many lawmakers are already assuming a continuing resolution will be needed.

On Monday, June 14, House Budget Chair John Yarmuth (KY) introduced a deeming resolution (H. Res. 467 (117)) that would set a limit of $1.5 trillion in government funding for the coming fiscal year, allowing appropriators to begin their work on a dozen annual spending bills. House Democrats plan to adopt the resolution this month to start the FY22 appropriations process, giving them time to wait for infrastructure negotiations before acting on a budget resolution. Once approved, House appropriators can finalize their 12 annual spending measures and hold markups, with the goal of passing the bills on the floor in July. Government funding runs out at midnight on September 30. Congressman Yarmuth is still assembling an FY22 budget resolution that will include instructions to deploy the reconciliation process Democrats could use this to pass President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and jobs priorities without Republican support, the way they did to enact the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package in March. The White House is still negotiating with a bipartisan group of senators on an infrastructure deal, and even if those negotiations fall through, finalizing a budget resolution to unlock the reconciliation process could take several weeks thereafter.

Click here to access the full House markup schedule.

Click here to access the USCM letter sent to Chairman Yarmuth.

Building Back Strong: Government Voices on Skills Investment

On Monday, June 14 the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities hosted a joint congressional briefing featuring mayors and county officials to outline their leadership on strategic investments of American Rescue Plan Act funding to support workforce innovations and prepare city/county residents for the changing workforce landscape. The session highlighted the pressing need for bipartisan passage of an infrastructure package that includes critical workforce investments to ensure that the nation’s greatest resource — its human capital — is prepared to build a stronger, more equitable America.

Click here to access a recording of the event.

Infrastructure

The Senate’s bipartisan $1.2 billion infrastructure plan is gaining momentum, as liberal Democrats are indicating their willingness to accept the package if moderate Democrats make “irrevocable” commitments to pass a larger bill with parts of President Biden’s plan not currently in the package — along straight party-lines — through budget reconciliation. Senator Joe Manchin (WV) said he would do so as long as the bipartisan bill got a "fair look." Senior Republicans have indicated there could be adequate GOP support backing the plan to overcome a 60-vote threshold and any filibuster attempt, assuming the final proposal resembles what was put forth last week, with Minority Whip John Thune (SD) saying there "would be substantial Republican support" for the measure as currently outlined.

The hope for Democrats is that once moderates secure a modest win they will be more willing to vote for a larger package that includes an overhaul of the country’s child and elder care economy from home health workers to paid family leave to an overhaul of prescription drug coverage. Details of the bipartisan infrastructure plan are not yet public, but the group is expected to unveil the proposal to their respective caucuses in more detail tomorrow. The proposal includes $1.2 trillion in spending over eight years with more than $570 billion in new spending. The group has been less apparent about how the proposal will be paid for.

Pell Grants

On Wednesday, June 16, Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Patty Murray (WA) and House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (VA) released their proposal to double the value of the Pell Grant, a key campaign promise of President Joe Biden. The plan would immediately increase the maximum Pell Grant, which is currently $6,495, by $1,475 for the 2022-23 school year. It would then gradually increase the award to $13,000 by the 2028-29 school year with subsequent automatic increases that are based on inflation. The Democratic plan would also extend Pell Grant eligibility to so-called Dreamers, undocumented students who were brought to the U.S. as children. And the lifetime cap on how long all types of students can receive Pell Grants would be increased from 12 semesters to 18 semesters under the plan.

Democrats hope to make funding for the Pell Grant program, which is currently funded by a combination of mandatory and discretionary funding, mandatory and not subject to the annual appropriations process. The Biden administration has also proposed a $1,875 combined boost to the Pell grant for the 2022-23 school year, describing it as a down payment on its goal of doubling the award. Increases to the Pell grant have received bipartisan support but it’s not clear if there’s significant GOP support for doubling the Pell grant program as Democrats are proposing.

Click here to read a press release on the legislation.

TAA Reauthorization

On Tuesday, June 17 House Ways and Means Committee Democrats, led by Trade Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer (OR), introduced two bills to reform U.S. trade policies so that they benefit workers, businesses, and the country’s most economically vulnerable trading partners. The pieces of legislation modernize and reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), and the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016 (AMCA). The Trade Adjustment Assistance aids workers who lost their jobs after their employers moved production overseas. The House bill would reauthorize the TAA program for seven years, expand eligibility and increase financial assistance to workers. No Republicans signed on to support the bills at their introduction, and some are likely to raise objections to the expanded provisions in TAA.

Click here to learn more.


Senate Hearing


On Wednesday, June 16, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified before the Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee on the Department’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget estimates.

Click here to access a recording of the hearing.

House Hearing


On Tuesday, June 15, the House Education and Labor Committee held their third and final hearing on reauthorizing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This last hearing was focused on formerly incarcerated people and how lawmakers can codify opportunities for them to reenter the workforce. Lawmakers seem to be on track for a bi-partisan reauthorization this session but it’s unclear when any legislation will be formally introduced.

Click here to watch the full hearing.


DOL Confirmations


Last week the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved several Department of Labor nominees, including Raj Nayak to be assistant secretary of labor for policy and Doug Parker to be assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, but full floor consideration has yet to be scheduled. Deputy Secretary of Labor nominee Julie Su was advanced out of committee in April and has yet to be brought up for a vote.

White House Webinar Series


In April 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration announced historic investments in community violence intervention (CVI) efforts to combat the gun violence epidemic. As part of the Administration’s efforts to support communities seeking to implement or expand CVI efforts, subject matter experts will present on CVI-related topics in a series of webinars. This webinar series is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Education, and the White House Domestic Policy Council.

The first webinar, “Community Violence Intervention (CVI) Webinar Series Part 1: Evidence-based Theory and Research on CVI” will take place on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET. In this webinar, presenters will discuss immediate steps communities can take to reduce community violence as well as the social determinants of health (e.g., norms, policies) that can lead to inequities in violence. Within this framework, presenters will define CVI, including the theory and research behind specific CVI models such as street outreach, violence interrupters, group violence interventions, and hospital-based interventions, as well as the role of the community and law enforcement within CVI. If you are interested in attending, please register for the event. Note that registration is limited, so please consider sending one representative from your organization to maximize the number of organizations that can participate. The webinar will also be recorded and available for viewing at a later date.

Click here to register for the event.

Initial Jobless Rate

In the week ending June 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 412,000, an increase of 37,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 1,000 from 376,000 to 375,000. The 4-week moving average was 395,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 402,500 to 403,000. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.5 percent for the week ending June 5, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.

Click here to read the full press release.

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