Advocacy & Policy Update - June 8, 2020



Coronavirus Relief Package

On Friday, June 5, President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans acknowledged the need for a fourth coronavirus pandemic relief package to help boost the economy and jobs. According to a Senate GOP aide, funding in a fourth bill needs to be targeted and focused on the economy and schools reopening safely. Despite the addition of 2.2 million jobs last month, the unemployment rates still remain at levels comparable to the Great Depression. During a press conference at the White House, President Trump said he’s still interested in a payroll tax cut, more stimulus money and additional aid for the restaurant and entertainment industries. House Democrats feel the unemployment report shows the need to take aggressive action, like passing their $3.5 trillion package “The Heroes Act.”

Appropriations On Tuesday, June 2, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) announced that the House aims to pass all 12 appropriations bills by the end of July. The coronavirus pandemic halted the House’s progress on marking up and passing all the fiscal 2021 spending bills and the chamber isn’t scheduled to vote again until June 30. Subcommittee and full committee markups on appropriations bills won’t begin until the end of June/beginning of July, after Congress can agree on a fourth round of pandemic relief. The Senate, however, plans to mark up several appropriations bills toward the end of June and the remainder after the July Fourth recess.

Senate HELP Committee

On Wednesday, June 3, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved six nominees to fill various positions at the Department of Labor (DOL), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the National Labor Relations Board. If confirmed by the Senate, the nominees would fill all five seats at the EEOC and four of five seats at the NLRB. By voice vote, the committee approved DOL Wage and Hour Division deputy chief Keith Sonderling to a Republican slot on the EEOC; Jocelyn Samuels, currently executive director of a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity at the University of California, for a Democratic seat on the EEOC; and former NLRB member Lauren McFerran to fill one of two vacant Democratic spots on the board.

The committee also advanced the nomination of Julie Hocker, to lead DOL’s disability employment policy office; Marvin Kaplan, who was renominated to his Republican seat on the NLRB; and Gibson Dunn lawyer Andrea Lucas for a Republican slot on the EEOC.

Unemployment Rate On Friday, June 5, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the jobs report for May - indicating the unemployment rate, surprisingly, fell to 13.3% and the economy gained 2.5 million jobs. It was the largest monthly gain in new jobs since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the data series in 1939. The labor market seems to have rebounded from April's dramatic losses. The Department also noted that during the pandemic, millions of workers were misclassified as ‘employed but not at work,’ when they should have been counted as ‘unemployed on temporary layoff.’ If it wasn’t for those misclassifications, the unemployment rate would have been higher - around 19.2% in April and 16.1% in May, not including seasonal adjustments. Still, economists' estimates for the May report were way off, with expectations around 20% and about 8 million jobs lost.

Click here to read the full report.

Click here to read the June 8 legislative update.

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