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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - March 21st, 2022

Negotiations Begin on Competitiveness Bill to Grow STEM Jobs

Washington Update

China Competitiveness Bills

On Thursday, March 17, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer started the process for negotiations with the House on a bill to keep the U.S. technologically competitive with China and provide $52 billion to strengthen domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Both versions of the bill include $52 billion for the CHIPS Act, which provides grants and incentives to semiconductor manufacturers to locate manufacturing facilities in the U.S. Both also invest in STEM education and create rotational cybersecurity positions giving federal employees the flexibility to gain experience and skills. The House COMPETES bill increases investment in the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service - a program for the federal cybersecurity workforce from its current level of $60 million to $90 million by FY26. The Senate version includes provisions to create regional technology hubs built on partnerships among industry, education institutions, and workforce groups to support domestic high-tech job growth in areas of the country that have not been historic innovation centers.

Community Development Block Grant

On Wednesday, March 16, the House Education and Labor Committee held a markup of the bipartisan Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Modernization Act of 2021 (HR 5129), which reauthorizes the CSBG for 10 years—the longest period in its history—and makes several key improvements. The legislation would make significant investments in the program by increasing the annual authorization of appropriations, require all states to expand income eligibility for CSBG services, increase accountability and performance requirements for CSBG grantees, and support new and innovative approaches to reducing poverty through a new Community Action Innovations Program. Click here to access the fact sheet.

Click here to access the summary.

Click here to access the full bill.

Department of Education

Last week, President Joe Biden announced plans to nominate Nasser Paydar, chancellor emeritus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and executive vice president of Indiana University, as assistant secretary for postsecondary education. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona praised the nomination - pointing out Paydar’s continued championing of equitable and affordable access to postsecondary education and focus on diversifying the higher education workforce throughout his decades of experience.

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending March 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 214,000, a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 227,000 to 229,000. The 4-week moving average was 223,000, a decrease of 8,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 231,250 to 231,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.0 percent for the week ending March 5, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate.

Click here to access the report.

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