top of page


Congress Averts Shutdown; Sends Six-Bill Funding Package to President Biden

Washington Update


On Saturday, March 9, President Biden signed a $460 billion package of six government spending bills, which the Senate passed on Friday evening in a vote of 75 to 22. The package funds six government areas including: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. Fighting over Republican amendments pushed senators up against the midnight deadline. The Senate rejected provisions that would have removed hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks and other proposed changes. Within the package, lawmakers secured more than $900 million in earmarks. 

Lawmakers must now work to pass the final six regular spending bills, which contain far more controversial elements, by the March 22 deadline. The second package includes: Defense, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Labor-HHS, Legislative Branch, and State and Foreign Operations. 

Click here to access the package of six bills.

Executive Order on Federal Apprenticeships

On Wednesday, March 6, President Biden issued an executive order (EO) that aims to expand federal agencies’ use of Registered Apprenticeship programs to attract and hire workers. The EO shifts the way federal agencies evaluate job candidates from one that is largely based on education attainment to one that emphasizes applicants’ relevant skills and work experience. Under the order, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) are required to prepare a report with ideas for expanding Registered Apprenticeship opportunities. The deadline for that report is in 180 days, beginning in September. The EO also re-established labor-management forums for federal employees to give feedback within the government, something that was recommended by the administration’s Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment that is chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Click here to access the executive order.

Short-Term Pell

On Wednesday, March 6, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (NC) and ranking member Bobby Scott (VA) appealed to business groups to help get the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act passed. The legislation, which expands Pell grants to cover short-term programs, was removed from the schedule two weeks ago after teachers unions, progressive groups and organizations representing higher education expressed opposition to it. The opposition groups said they were concerned the bill would fund low-quality job training programs and pushed back against its proposal to fund the expansion of Pell grants by charging wealthy universities for the cost of federal student loans that aren’t repaid by their former students. During their joint appearance at a Business Roundtable, Foxx and Scott said they are working on overcoming resistance in both parties for the legislation. Business Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and groups representing for-profit schools and community colleges support the bill. 

Congressional Review Act

On Wednesday, March 6, Senator Bill Cassidy (LA) and Congressman Kevin Kiley (CA) introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to overturn the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) independent contractor rule, which is set to take effect today. The legislation would block the worker classification rule, which would make it more difficult for companies to label workers as independent contractors. Announced in January, the final rule will make it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors, who aren’t eligible for the same benefits and protections awarded to employees under federal wage and hour law. It’s been criticized by many in the business community, particularly app-based companies like Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. Separately, the Senate is preparing to vote on a separate CRA attempt to overturn the National Labor Relations Board’s new standards for determining whether a given worker is jointly employed by multiple employers. The House passed its version in January. It is highly likely to pass the Senate and President Biden is expected to veto it.

Skills Investment Act

On Monday, March 4, Senators Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Mike Braun (IN) reintroduced the Skills Investment Act, which would expand Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) so American workers can use the accounts to pay for skills training, career-related learning, adult education, and professional development. Congressmen Derek Kilmer (WA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) introduced companion legislation in the House.  The bill would eliminate the age-based contribution limit on Coverdell ESAs and expand the scope of allowable distributions to cover a broad array of career and technical education services. These savings accounts would now be eligible for pretax contributions and mid-career workers would be allowed to contribute up to $4,000 tax-free each year, with a maximum contribution limit of $10,000. Employers would receive a 25 percent tax credit for contributions to a worker’s account.

Click here to access the full press release on the bill.

Economic Development Reauthorization Act of 2024

On Friday, March 8, Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairman Tom Carper (DE) and Ranking Member Senator Shelley Moore Capito (WV), along with EPW Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Mark Kelly (AZ) and Ranking Member Kevin Cramer (ND), introduced the Economic Development Reauthorization Act of 2024 to amend EDA’s reauthorization. The bipartisan legislation updates funding levels and makes reforms to modernize EDA’s core programs and authorizes activities such as workforce development and disaster assistance. It would authorize and update the laws pertaining to certain federal regional commissions and establish two new regional commissions.  

Click here to read the press release.

Click here to access a summary.

Click here to access a section-by-section analysis.

Click here to access the full text.

USCM/Comcast Project Up Grant Now Open for Applications

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, in partnership with Comcast’s Project Up, is now accepting applications for the 2024 Talent for Tomorrow: Digital Equity Challenge. The Challenge will award ten competitive grants to help cities expand local workforce and career readiness programs that provide digital access, improve economic mobility, and support digital skills and creativity. The deadline for submitting Part I of the application, which consists of a cover page and 500-word executive summary of your program, is March 15, 2024.

Click here to learn more and submit an application.

Unemployment Rate

On Friday, March 8, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the February unemployment report, which showed the U.S. labor market added 275,000 jobs last month with the unemployment rate jumping to 3.9%. The previous two months saw steep revisions in their job numbers with January being revised downward to 229,000 from the initially reported 353,000 and December being revised down to 290,000 from 333,000. The unemployment rate increase came even though the labor force participation rate held steady at 62.5%, though the “prime age” rate increased to 83.5%, up two-tenths of a percentage point.  

Click here to access the report.

Click here to read Acting Secretary of Labor Su’s statement on the February jobs report.

Recent Posts

See All


WIOA Reauthorization Bill Passes House, USCM Action Alert Goes to Mayors Washington Update WIOA Reauthorization — A Stronger Workforce for America Act ​ On Tuesday, April 9, the House passed the bipar


House to Vote on WIOA Reauthorization Bill Washington Update WIOA Reauthorization — A Stronger Workforce for America Act ​ On Tuesday, April 9, A Stronger Workforce for America Act (ASWA - HR 6655), t


Cole Emerges as Frontrunner for Appropriations Chair Appropriations ​ On Friday, March 22, in a letter to Republican leadership, Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX) announced she will step down early as ch


bottom of page