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Biden Signs Government Funding Bill


On Saturday, March 23, President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion spending package after Congress passed the legislation hours earlier – averting a partial government shutdown. The legislation cleared the Senate on Friday, March 22, on a vote of 74-24, and earlier Friday, passed by the House on a vote of 286-134. The package includes funding for the Departments of Labor and Education. The bill makes investments in childcare and early childhood education through a combined $1 billion increase for Head Start and the Child Care Development Block Grant, which are both administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Department of Labor (DOL) is funded at a net total of $13.7 billion, a $145 million cut from FY23 levels. The Employment and Training Administration would see a $28 million cut, with its overall funding set at $10.4 billion.  A number of training programs across the country would receive funding through earmarks from individual members, however, to fund specified job training programs, summer youth employment efforts and other initiatives in their states and districts.  These earmarks offset some of the overall reduction and considered together, the overall funding for WIOA programs would see a net increase of 1.46% over FY23. 


The legislation rejected the House Republicans’ proposal to eliminate Job Corps and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Below are funding levels for key DOL programs of importance to cities:

  • $2.9 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) formula grants. Level funding WIOA Adult ETA, Youth Activities, and Dislocated Worker ETA. WIOA Dislocated Worker National Activities is allocated just under $301 million, a $25 million cut from FY23 enacted levels.

  • $1.8 billion for Job Corps.

  • $4.25 billion for Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants, a roughly $300 million increase over FY23 levels.

  • $285 million for Registered Apprenticeships and sustains funding for a range of other programs, such as YouthBuild and Reentry Employment Opportunities.

  • $115 million for reintegrating ex-offenders.

  • $65 million for community college training grants.

  • $260 million to support the Wage and Hour Division, rejecting a nearly 30% cut in the House bill.

  • $632 million level funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), rejecting the 15% cut in the House bill. 

The Department of Education is funded at a net total of $79.1 billion, a cut of $500 million from the FY23 enacted level.  The bill protects and builds on investments in foundational formula grant programs for elementary and secondary education and in public schools, teachers, and students.  The list below summarizes key Department of Education programs for cities.

  • Title I grants for low income schools would be funded at $18.4 billion — rejecting the House Republican bid to cut this spending by $14.7 which would have resulted in a $3.7 billion level.  

  • The bill provides $15 billion for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants.  IDEA Part B would get $14.2 billion under this package.  

  • Career, Technical and Adult Education would be funded at $2.2 billion — an overall $10 million cut from FY23.  State grants would be funded at $1.4 billion, a $10 million increase, and adult education programs would remain level-funded at $729 million.  

  • The bill maintains the Maximum Pell Grant award of $7,395 for the 2024-2025 school year, preserving the $900 increase in the maximum award over the last two fiscal years.

  • Federal TRIO  and GEAR UP programs, which help disadvantaged students enroll in higher education are provided $1.2 billion and $388 million respectively. 

  • The bill provides $908 million for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority serving institutions, an increase of $8 million over FY23. HBCUs would receive $401 million, a $5 million boost compared to last fiscal year; Hispanic serving institutions would get $229 million, $1 million more than FY23; and tribal colleges and universities are provided $52 million, an increase of $0.3 million compared with last fiscal year.

  • The bill maintains the $20 million investment in the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program, which is used to strengthen the relationship between parents and their children’s schools and engage families in education—rejecting House Republicans’ proposed elimination of the program.

  • $70 million for the Teacher Quality Partnership program.

  • $15 million for the Hawkins Centers of Excellence to help educator preparation programs address educator shortages.

  • $75 million for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS).

Click here to access the full bill text.

Click here to access the Labor-HHS-Education bill summary.

Click here to access the Explanatory Statement.

Click here to access the Congressionally Directed Spending.

Click here to access the Senate Democrats’ summary.

Click here to access the House Republicans’ summary.

Congressional Review Act

On Thursday, March 21, the House Education and the Workforce Committee advanced the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which would nullify the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) independent contractor rule. The rule, which went into effect on March 11, restricts employers’ ability to classify workers as independent contractors. Conservatives, as well as some business groups, have vocally opposed the rule. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee ranking member Bill Cassidy (LA) has introduced a version of the CRA in the Senate.

FAFSA and Gainful Employment Rule

On Thursday, March 21, a bipartisan group of senators, including Senators Roger Marshall (KS), Tommy Tuberville (AL), Tim Kaine (VA), and John Hickenlooper (CO), sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urging his Department to ease federal financial aid verification requirements and delay school reporting requirements for its institutional gainful employment and financial value transparency regulations. In the letter, the Senators argue it is necessary in order to relieve any additional administrative burdens on schools as they begin the work to process Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms. The letter comes after repeated delays to unveil the redesigned FAFSA form and as delays in processing student financial aid data have negatively impacted the college admissions cycle. 

The Department’s gainful employment rule, one of the Administration’s signature policies, is expected to take effect on July 1 and applies to nearly all institutions of higher education — with a particular aim at protecting students against low-performing career college programs and for-profit schools. Institutions are required to report data by July 1, though the agency will not publish data or require student warnings until 2026. The letter argues that giving institutions more time to report this data “will have no negative impact on students and families in terms of institutional accountability or transparency” and says that families will “benefit … by having financial aid administrators focused” on sending out their financial aid awards. Lawmakers also want the Department to permit schools to accept electronic copies of FAFSA verification materials, including electronic signatures.

Click here to access the full letter.

Proposed Apprenticeship Rule

On Monday, March 18, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (NC) led a comment letter to Department of Labor (DOL) Acting Secretary Julie Su requesting the Department withdraw its proposed apprenticeship rule, titled “National Apprenticeship System Enhancements.” The letter criticizes the length of the 600-page rule and says the rule would increase the regulations on registered apprenticeships under the National Apprenticeship Act of 1937. Letter signatories indicated one major concern is the rule expanding federal control over apprenticeships and imposing burdens on apprenticeships for employers, which will possibly lead to fewer registered apprenticeship opportunities and exacerbate the shortage of skilled workers. The new rule was developed with the intent to create a more uniformed system and bolster the ability for high school and community college students to smoothly transition into an apprenticeship.

Click here to access the full letter.

Click here to access the DOL proposed apprenticeship rule.

Protect Time Off Act

On Wednesday, March 20, lawmakers in both the House and Senate introduced the Protect Time Off Act, in order to guarantee that U.S. workers have at least two weeks of paid vacation. The bill would require that full-time workers are allotted two weeks of paid annual leave, for any reason, in addition to any paid time off (PTO) mandated under current law. Co-sponsors of the House bill pointed out that low-wage employees and people of color are disproportionately affected by lax PTO laws, and that other countries — including members of the European Union — guarantee workers four weeks of paid vacation a year. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (VT) is expected to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.

Click here to access the full press release.

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending March 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 210,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 3,000 from 209,000 to 212,000. The 4-week moving average was 211,250, an increase of 2,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 208,000 to 208,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.2 percent for the week ending March 9, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.

Click here to access the report.

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