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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - March 7th, 2022

Lawmakers Still Negotiating Omnibus Spending Package as Deadline Fast Approaches

Washington Update

Omnibus Package

Congress is racing to finalize an FY22 omnibus spending bill, which could be released as soon as today. Lawmakers are facing a Friday, March 11, deadline to finish a deal to avoid a government shutdown or pass another stopgap measure. Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (VT) has said to expect domestic spending to return to its highest level in four years - suggesting that many of the Trump era cuts to agencies will be reversed. The package is expected to include millions of dollars needed to fully implement the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package passed last year. It is also expected to include billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine, natural disasters and COVID-19 relief, however the White House request of $22.5 billion in emergency COVID-19 spending is getting pushback from Republicans. With the return of earmarks the omnibus could contain as much as $10 billion in congressionally directed earmarks that have new transparency requirements and can only go toward nonprofit or state and local government entities.

Pell Grant

On Tuesday, March 1,during his State of the Union address, President Biden called on Congress to increase the maximum Pell Grant award by more than $2,000. The White House has also indicated support for students protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program having access to the grants. Biden said college tuition has become increasingly unaffordable for lower-income and migrant families in the United States since the beginning of the 21st century. Before the speech, the White House said that raising the amount of funding available to federal Pell Grants will allow more people to attend college.

Unemployment Rate

On Friday, March 4, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the February jobs report, which showed stronger than expected job growth with nonfarm payrolls rising by 678,000. The overall unemployment rate fell to 3.8% last month from 4% in January. The unemployment rate for Black women, however, ticked up to 6.1% in February from 5.8% in January - the only race and gender group to see a slight uptick. The labor force participation rate for Black women also dipped last month by 0.2 percentage points. Nearly a third of all Black women who work in the U.S. are in the health-care and social-services sector, which has had a slow rebound in labor recovery during the pandemic. Economists also blame Covid’s disruption of the child-care industry for sidelining female workers.

Click here to access the report.

Click here to read Secretary Walsh’s statement on the February Jobs Report.

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